Saturday, 1 October 2011

Wakefield public meeting to hear about dangers of explicit sex education in primary schools

antonia20110918_lowA public meeting will be held next Tuesday (4 October) evening in Wakefield to hear parents' worries about explicit sex education programmes in primary schools.

Antonia Tully (pictured), coordinator of SPUC's Safe at School campaign, a nationwide campaign for parents concerned about explicit sex education, will be speaking in Wakefield to explain how graphic sex education is priming young children for teenage sex. Mrs Tully, a mother of five school-aged children, will be showing video clips from classroom teaching resources, aimed at seven year olds, which show sexual intercourse. The meeting has been organised by the local SPUC branch.

All parents are urged to attend to find out how to uphold their rights to protect their children from sexualisation in the classroom.

The meeting will be held at Outwood Memorial Hall, Victoria Street, Outwood, Wakefield WF1 2NN starting at 7.30pm, Tuesday 4 October 2011.

For more information, please contact Antonia Tully on (020) 8407 3643 or safeatschool@spuc.org.uk

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Evan Harris wants doctors to push the abortion agenda

At a Voice for Choice pro-abortion meeting in London last week, Evan Harris (pictured), the pro-abortion MP who lost his seat at the last general election, said that the support of medical professionals was “vital” and should be used to push the abortion agenda. Evan Harris said that he would be happy to use the time on his hands to help in this regard.

Medical professionals, beware!

Evan Harris went on to say that the RCOG and medical workers generally are absolutely crucial (in the pro-abortion campaign). He said that politicians nearly always follow the medics. He said that if ever parliament looked like ignoring pro-abortion lobbying from medical professionals, that it was very effective to argue ... “This would be the first time parliament has ignored its medical professionals on these issues”. He said that the argument was not strictly true, but it was for the most part and was certainly effective!

This is the Evan Harris who as an MP:
  • argued for the law to be changed to allow patients to be assisted to commit suicide by lethal dose;
  • tabled an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill apparently designed to force doctors, nurses and pharmacists to prescribe, provide, dispense or administer birth control when requested to do so;
  • tabled amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill to remove the requirement for two doctors to authorise an abortion and no longer to require the doctors to act in “good faith”, making abortion more like any other “medical” procedure
Dr Harris is trying to manipulate the debate about abortion by setting himself up as the self-appointed arbiter and all-knowing oracle of what he claims to be evidence-based medical science. Rather than be manipulated by Evan Harris, who warns us that he has time on his hands, many medical professionals and politicians will prefer to take heed of a review in the British Journal of Psychiatry which concluded that women having abortions experience an 81% increased risk of mental health problems.

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Friday, 30 September 2011

Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Fri 30 September

Women prisoners with post-abortion trauma
Top stories:

Contact Council of Europe urgently to protect unborn children from discrimination
This coming Tuesday (4 October) the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will consider a report which includes serious attacks on unborn children with sex-linked genetic disorders. SPUC has asked its supporters to contact their country’s delegates at PACE, asking them to to reject or amend the dangerous clauses, or vote against the report if the bad content is not removed. [SPUC, 28 September] http://goo.gl/Nfd0J

SPUC supporters encouraged to join SPUC London region at 40 Days for Life vigil
SPUC supporters are encouraged to join SPUC London region at the 40 Days for Life vigil outside a central London abortion centre. The vigil will be held on Sat 15 October, beginning at 10am and finishing at 4pm outside BPAS, 26/27 Bedford Square, WC1B 3HP. For more information, call 020 8668 7697 or email pascal.lalande@btopenworld.com

M case decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people
SPUC Pro-Life has published a summary and in-depth commentary on Wednesday's decision in the M case. Mr Justice Baker, sitting in the Court of Protection, refused an application for withdrawal of assisted food and fluids from a woman diagnosed in a so-called 'minimally conscious state'. SPUC Pro-Life welcomed the decision but warned that the judgment contains future threats to disabled people. [SPUC, 29 September] http://goo.gl/tbalv

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
General
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Praying with 40 Days for Life London for an end to abortion

I have said before how blessed we are in London to have such a fantastic pro-life initiative in 40 Days for Life London. This is the third time that the forty day vigil has been run in this city and the driving force behind it has been committed young pro-lifers. They are giving up much to run such a worthy campaign, not least their time.

This morning I joined them for the first time since the vigil was launched on Tuesday evening and began proper on Wednesday morning outside of the BPAS abortion facility in Bedford Square.

Here I am praying with Beata, one of the 40 Days for Life London organising team.

I was also very happy to be attending the vigil with my son Paul.



The the 40 Days for Life vigil itself is an event open to people of all faiths and none. Paul is organising for a group of young Catholics to go together to the vigil tomorrow morning  between 9.30am and 12.30pm and they are going to the 8am Mass at the Brompton Oratory beforehand for anyone wishing to join them. Although the organisation for this is being done by young people all are welcome to join them, as indeed they are for the entire 40 Day campaign.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

M case decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people

SPUC Pro-Life has published a summary and in-depth commentary (below) on yesterday's decision in the M case. Mr Justice Baker, sitting in the Court of Protection, refused an application for withdrawal of assisted food and fluids from a woman diagnosed in a so-called 'minimally conscious state'. Yesterday afternoon Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, debated the M case with Dr Evan Harris on Sky News, and has written the summary and commentary below.

M case judgment, Court of Protection, 28 September 2011: decision welcome but judgment contains future threats to disabled people

Summary:

On the positive side:
  • Ms M has been spared the slow and degrading process of death by dehydration/starvation;
  • The judge gave great weight to the evidence of the healthcare staff involved in Ms M’s day-to-day care – more so than expert medical witnesses, and more so than the evidence of her sister who visits her only briefly and occasionally.
On the negative side:
  • The judgment has extended the scope for the courts to dictate that other patients in a similar condition can be killed
  • This case will pave the way for future Court of Protection cases – which may be shrouded in secrecy – which may sanction death for similar patients
  • The judgment implies that poor quality of life was grounds for killing starving incapacitated patients
  • The judge said that everyone seeking to have similarly disabled relatives killed in this way should get legal aid (but not people who were trying to stop someone being killed)
  • The judgment said that the protection of life for vulnerable people was a “fundamental” principle, but not an “absolute” one – a manoeuvre by which he left scope for decisions to starve/dehydrate others in future.
  • The legal and media attention devoted to this case belies the fact that hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people with conditions like stroke or dementia, are deliberately killed by withdrawing assisted food and water every year in Britain.
Commentary:

We welcome the decision to spare Ms M[i] the horrible slow death by dehydration and starvation that was sought by Irwin Mitchell, the legal firm who, acting at their own expense[ii], asked for her to be killed by this cruel and inhuman process. Irwin Mitchell were acting for Ms M’s mother, Mrs W, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and her sister, Ms B.

Ms M is described as being in a “Minimally Conscious State”, a diagnosis one-step removed from the Non-Responsive State (also called “Vegetative State”).

The judge’s ruling hinged on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which was designed to enshrine the 1993 Bland case in law. The Bland case defined food and water given by tube as medical treatment, said that some severely disabled people were not worth keeping alive, and argued that when such disabled people died it was really their underlying disability that killed them, not the doctors or relatives who deliberately starved/dehydrated them.[iii]

In his judgment, Mr Baker cites some of the most disturbing passages of the Bland judgment, including Lord Goff’s assertions that “the very poor quality of the life” of  a patient was ground for withholding life-prolonging treatment.[iv]

The Mental Capacity Act added to this by saying that if anyone asked in advance to be starved/dehydrated in this way (by making an advance directive), then they must be left to die in this way if they become incapacitated and rely on tube-feeding.

Ironically, the Mental Capacity Act has helped prevent Ms M from being killed by dehydration and starvation in this instance, as she did not have an advance directive. Ms M can only be killed if the courts regard it as being in her “best interests.” The judge, Mr Justice Baker, has insisted that the letter of the law be observed, and that everything possible to improve Ms M’s condition should be tried before she is starved to death.

However, there are a number of very disturbing aspects about Mr Baker’s judgment:

He said that if Ms M’s condition had been slightly worse, so that she was defined as being in a “vegetative” state[v], he would automatically have agreed to killing her.[vi]

The judge gives considerable attention to evidence from M’s sister, Ms B, even though she does not visit her often or for very long, but calls briefly once every 3-4 weeks and doesn’t talk to her sister.[vii] While Mr Baker says she has shown “devotion” to her sister,  he gives more weight to the evidence of the various healthcare staff in assessing M’s current status.

On the other hand, Mr Baker gives significant weight in his judgment to the evidence of the healthcare staff, such as skills workers, physiotherapists, etc, who work with Ms M, and who said that her overall experience of life is positive. The judge gave this more weight than the evidence of the medical expert, Professor Lynne Turner-Stokes, who said that M’s overall experience was negative.[viii] While one can be thankful that this view prevailed, it is deplorable that someone’s right to life should be balanced on whether their experience of life is deemed negative or positive.

The concluding section of the judgment “Observations for future cases” is deeply disturbing.  Here, with the authority of the President of the Court of Protection, Mr Baker sets out procedures for bringing future cases of patients in the “Minimally Conscious State” to court for rulings on the withdrawal of their food and fluids. Thus he is setting the scene for widening the Bland judgment

He calls for public funding to be given to any relatives who want to make such an application. In very many cases of this type, families will be divided between those who want their relative to be killed and those who want them to continue to receive care. This proposal means public funding for the killers, but no support for relatives who oppose attempts to starve and dehydrate their relatives.[ix]

Notes:
[i] In accordance with normal standards of courtesy in journalism and elsewhere (which may not necessarily obtain in legal documents), we accord Ms M an honorific title (‘Ms’), at least when introducing her, on the basis that even if this title is not the formally correct one, it indicates the respect we accord her as a fellow human being. 
[ii] See Judgment (W(B) v M & S & an NHS Trust, [2011] EWHC 2443 (Fam)), §27
[iii] For a fuller commentary on Bland, see http://www.spuc.org.uk/about/no-less-human/Bland.pdf
[iv] Judgment, §64
[v] The term ‘vegetative’ in this context is offensive to many people with disabilities; the term ‘non-responsive’ is a non-derogatory alternative.
[vi] Judgment, §35
[vii] Judgment §115
[viii] Judgment §251
[ix] Judgment §260

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Contact Council of Europe urgently to protect unborn children from discrimination

(You can also read the alert below in French, Italian, Polish, PortugueseRussian and Spanish)

Next week the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE, not to be confused with the European Parliament of the European Union (EU)) will consider a report which includes serious attacks on unborn children with sex-linked genetic disorders. The report is called “Prenatal Sex Selection”. It is being proposed by Ms. Doris Stump, Swiss socialist PACE delegate, and it includes a Resolution and Recommendation, on which delegates will be asked to vote. We believe that both the Resolution and the Recommendation must be amended – and if this cannot be done, they should be opposed. The report comes from the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. Amendments must be submitted no later than 3 October 2011 by 4pm. The debate is scheduled for 4 October 2011 during the PACE plenary session.

The following sections (in bold) in the Resolution deny the right to life of children, especially children with inherited diseases:
(7) In line with the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (ETS No. 164), the Assembly believes that, in the context of assisted reproduction technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal sex selection should be resorted to only to avoid serious hereditary diseases linked to one sex
(8.5) encourage national ethics bodies to elaborate and introduce guidelines for medical staff, discouraging prenatal sex selection by whatever method, unless justified for the prevention of serious sex-linked genetic diseases
(8.7) introduce legislation with a view to prohibiting sex selection in the context of assisted reproduction technologies and legal abortion, except when it is justified to avoid a serious hereditary disease.
The following danger is found in the Recommendation:
(3.3) step up efforts aimed at promoting the signature, ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210) and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine
Again, the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention) denies the right to life of unborn children by approving destruction of embryos with inherited disease, and therefore the reference to it in the present Recommendation should be deleted.

Please contact your country’s delegates at PACE:
(http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/AssemblyList/AL_DelegationsList_E.asp)
asking them to:
  • to reject or amend the dangerous clauses in order to protect unborn children, particularly those who may have a sex-linked genetic disorder
  • vote against the report if the bad content is not removed.
Please don’t forget to copy any replies you receive from PACE delegates to SPUC either by email to political@spuc.org.uk or by post to SPUC HQ.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dr Margaret Ogola, the Kenyan pro-life humanitarian, has died

I have just heard the very sad news that Dr Margaret Ogola has died. On behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, I extend our deepest sympathy to George, her husband, and her six children.

I first encountered Dr Ogola in 1994 in Cairo at the United Nations Conference on Population and Development where I was lobbying on behalf of SPUC. A Kenyan paediatrician, Margaret worked at Kenyatta General Hospital in Nairobi, as a consultant paediatrician.

Margaret was speaking in Cairo at the forum for non-governmental organizations about her work at Kenyatta General Hospital.

She said that a woman in need of an antibiotic for a sick child would have to pay for the syringe, for the needle, and for the antibiotic, otherwise her child would not be treated. However, the same woman seeking contraception could get every variety under the sun at the brand new family planning clinic next to her hospital, completely free of charge, courtesy of Western nations.

As I wrote in SPUC's newspaper at the time Human Concern:
"Not one penny of the 17 billion US dollars which the Cairo Conference agreed to spend will go on treating sick children. However, a staggering 15 billion US dollars will be spent on population control."
In 1997, I travelled to Kenya with Peter Smith, an SPUC UN lobbyist, and Dr Jack Willke, known as the father of the US pro-life movement, to speak at a seminar, organized by Margaret on behalf of the Kenyan Catholic episcopal conference. The seminar was for church leaders, educationalists and health professionals on the battle against the international abortion lobby and its designs for Kenya.

In 2001, she wrote in support of SPUC's intervention in a court battle - in which the Family Planning Association was seeking to undermine the legal protection of unborn children in Northern Ireland. They were using the tactic, used by David Steel when he introduced the British Abortion Act, that the abortion law in Northern Ireland needed "clarification".

Margaret Ogola said in her letter to SPUC:
"There are very restrictive abortion laws in Kenya, as there are in the vast majority of African countries. Our abortion laws are actually based on the legal situation inherited from Britain before our independence. This certainly does not mean that the law is in need of any clarification; indeed far from it. The law is quite clear, and its implications are undisputed."

She continued:

"No government minister here in Kenya has ever sought to offer guidance as to the cases in which abortion would be allowed. It is not the place of the government or individual ministers to issue such guidance. There are many similarities between abortion law in Kenya and abortion law in Norther Ireland. Here there is no question of a minister issuing any guidelines relating to abortion.

"I wish to assure you that I am more than willing to provide any further information you may require in the course of court proceedings in Belfast ... "
Dr Ogola was not only a pro-life champion in Kenya and internationally. She was an award winning author (The River and the Source: see image above), and, in her own words in her letter to SPUC "a wife and a mother". In addition she was one of this century's and the last century's great African humanitarians as her obituary on the Strathmore University website today makes clear:
"In 1998, she became the National Executive Secretary for Health and Family Life at the Kenya Episcopal Conference until 2002. The job entailed co-ordinating the administration of over 430 health care facilities run by the Catholic Church in Kenya.

"The facilities offer about 20% of healthcare in Kenya.

"In November 2002, she became the Kenya co-ordinator of HACI (Hope for African Children Initiative), a partnership of several international NGOs – Plan, CARE, Save the Children, Society for Women and Aids, World Conference for Religion and Peace, and World Vision.

"Dr Ogola also helped found and manage the SOS HIV/AIDS Clinic (April 2004 –April 2005), which is a clinic for people living with Aids (PLWAs). The clinic offers VCT, provision of ART and nutritional support to 1000 persons from the surrounding slums: women, men and children."
Visiting the Ogolas' home in Nairobi in 1997 was humbling. The simplicity with which she and George, also a doctor, and their large family lived - and carried out their selfless humanitarian work - is something I will never forget.

And neither must we forget Kenya - and all African nations - so cruelly targeted by the worldwide population control lobby, led by Barack Obama and the US administration.

As Dr Ogola told the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing:
Unless we recognise that each individual is irrepeatable and valuable by virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot begin to talk about human rights. This includes the right to be born, as all of us have enjoyed. True justice should be for each human being, visible and invisible, young and old, disabled and able, to enjoy fully their right to life. The accidental attributes that we acquire such as colour, sex intelligence, economic circumstances, physical or mental disability should not be used as an excuse to deprive a person of life.
I strongly encourage everyone to read the whole of this excellent speech entitled 'The Dignity of African Women'.

May Dr Margaret Ogola, award winning author, medical doctor, and human rights advocate, and selfless friend of unborn children and their mothers worldwide, rest in peace.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Tue 27 Sep

Gillian Walnes, Anne Frank Trust UK
Top stories:

Medical director of UK abortion provider finds performing abortions gratifying
The medical director of one of the UK's largest abortion providers has said that she finds performing abortions gratifying. Dr Patricia Lohr of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) also told a meeting of the pro-abortion lobby that "It's crucial for abortionists to talk about abortion as a good thing”. John Smeaton, SPUC director, commented: "We must hope and pray that, like the late Dr Bernard Nathanson and other ex-abortionists, Dr Lohr will see that choosing life, not death, is gratifying." [John Smeaton, 26 September] http://goo.gl/7OQJD

Holocaust charity condemns BBC presenter's population control remarks
A UK charity remembering the Holocaust has condemned remarks by a BBC presenter promoting population control. Chris Packham, a BBC wildlife presenter, said: "We face horrendous hurdles in getting this message [about limiting population growth] across. The first thing is the Holocaust, because the minute you talk about this, people call you a eugenicist and they believe that you want to kill people." Gillian Walnes (pictured), of the Anne Frank Trust UK, said they were ‘bizarre. I think that Chris Packham has made an odd and shocking choice in using the Holocaust to try to justify rejection of his thoughts on population control. The lessons we take from the Holocaust are about what terrible things an enforcement ideology can lead to and of the value and sanctity of human life." [Mail, 27 September] goo.gl/a6EuV

Women who use RU486 experience more pain and distress, UK study suggests
Women who use RU486, the abortion drug, experience more pain and distress than those who have a surgical abortion, a new study suggests. Researchers at Newcastle university, UK, found that more than half of the women studied had a worse than expected experience of the drug. Psychological effects included nightmares of killing their unborn children. [Earned Media, 26 September] http://goo.gl/9PmHs

Other stories:

Embryology
Euthanasia
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Monday, 26 September 2011

Medical director of BPAS finds performing abortions gratifying

I read a report today of a pro-abortion meeting held by Voice for Choice in central London last week. The meeting was addressed by Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP, Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), and Dr Patricia Lohr, BPAS's medical director, and others from Brook.

Dr Lohr said she felt extremely fortunate to provide abortions. She said she finds performing abortion gratifying. She said Dr Lohr said that there was a need for all medical workers to be able to direct women towards an abortion even if the medical workers consider it to be morally wrong. She said:
"It's crucial for abortionists to talk about abortion as a good thing”.
But what kind of person thinks that performing abortions is gratifying; that one’s fortunate to provide them and that abortion is a good thing? Here, as a brief reminder, is a description of a suction abortion, the most common type of abortion procedure in Britain, representing 52% of the 189,574 abortions which took place last year under the Abortion Act in England and Wales:
“The cervix (the neck of the womb) must be stretched open to allow the surgeon to insert a plastic tube into the womb. Sharp-edged openings near the tip of the tube help to dismember the baby so the parts are small enough to be sucked out. The surgeon then uses the suction tube to evacuate the placenta from the womb. The remains of the baby are deposited in a jar for disposal.”
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, who has written about the effect of abortion on the moral character of abortionists, says:
"The most likely negative effect upon abortionists may be the obscuring of their innate tendency towards the natural law in failing to distinguish unjustifiable homicide from medical treatment."
but that:
"[E]ven such a vice as serial killing of the innocent does not result in absolute and irrevocable corruption of an individual’s human nature."
So we must hope and pray that, like the late Dr Bernard Nathanson and other ex-abortionists, Dr Lohr will see that choosing life, not death, is gratifying.

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Today's must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 26 Sep

Kandice Smith & family
UN pressuring Ireland to legalise abortion
A UN committee on torture is pressuring Ireland to legalise abortion. The Committee on the Abolition of Torture said that Ireland's total ban on abortion may breach a UN convention against torture. Pat Buckley, SPUC's representative at the UN said the committee's observations were "an example of the pro-abortion strategy to create a "right to abortion" by stating falsehoods about international law and treaties over and over again until they begin to be treated as truth." [Pat Buckley, 24 September] http://goo.gl/8VfDR

Cystic fibrosis woman refuses abortion to give birth to triplets
A young American woman with cystic fibrosis has given birth to triplets after refusing abortion. Kandice Smith, 20, was warned by doctors that she may not survive giving birth. However, Miss Smith said ‘It has been the hardest fight of my life - but it has been worth every second. I would have died for my girls if I’d had to.’ [Mail, 23 September] http://goo.gl/iC1GE

UK man given suspended sentence for wife's euthanasia death
A retired British actor has been given a 12-month suspended sentence for smothering his ill wife to death. Stuart Mungall, 71, confessed to and was convicted of the manslaughter of his wife, 69, who had a degenerative brain disease. The sentence was a reduced one due to mitigating circumstances. [Peter Saunders, 23 September] http://goo.gl/2UmEV

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Population
Sexual ethics
General
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