Saturday, 8 September 2012

Government and health minister disingenuous on assisted suicide statements

SPUC Pro-Life has described as disingenuous both the Government and health minister Anna Soubry MP following Mrs Soubry's comments supporting a change in the law to allow assisted suicide. (See our release earlier today).

The Department of Health is reported to have said that Mrs Soubry's comments, and similar comments by Norman Lamb MP, another health minister, were personal views not government policy, and that the issue of assisted suicide was not one for the Department of Health. The Department of Justice is reported to have said that the government has no plans to change the law and that assisted suicide law reform was a matter for Parliament.

Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, told the media this evening:
"The Government's statements are disingenuous and not credible. Governments often claim that they have no plan to change law - but very soon those same governments make or otherwise back such a plan. It is often left unclear whether responses by ministers in the Houses of Parliament are the government's position or their own opinion.

Also, when (for example) the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes comments about Britain's economy in newspaper interviews, no one believes that his comments are his personal opinions only, with no influence on government policy. Assisted suicide is a health issue and Department of Health ministers will have influence alongside Justice ministers and others on the government's approach to new legislation, such as that proposed by Lord Falconer.

Anna Soubry has also been disingenuous. Before the general election, she failed to respond to constituents wanting to know where she stood on assisted suicide and other pro-life issues. Now that she has been elected to Parliament and appointed as a health minister, she feels free to tell a national newspaper instead. The duplicity thus shown by Mrs Soubry to her constituents does not inspire trust in the government's disclaimers. We fear strongly that she will work behind the scenes to weaken legal protections for disabled people.

Suicide-prevention is the humane response to suicidal people - and it's the usual response across the NHS, the justice system, education and so on. But when a person with a disability or degenerative condition is suicidal, MPs, lawyers and media-pundits start talking about the 'right to die'."
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Health minister's assisted suicide comments condemned by SPUC Pro-Life

Comments by Anna Soubry MP, the new health minister, supporting assisted suicide have been condemned by SPUC Pro-Life the group which was officially represented before the courts in the Debbie Purdy and Diane Pretty cases.

In an interview in The Times newspaper, Mrs Soubry called it "ridiculous" that disabled and chronically-ill people are not given help to kill themselves in Britain.

Paul Tully, SPUC Pro-Life's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
"The good will among the public towards people with disabities has never been higher than at these Paralympic Games. Suddenly they are faced with the sickening prospect that if they struggle with suicidal feelings, they will be given help to die instead of care and support. Anna Soubry has wasted no time after her appointment in making known her priority. Such a move would allegedly save huge amounts of public funds in the costs of caring for disabled, elderly and supposedly unproductive people. Disabled people must speak up now before the minister starts trying to legislate against their equal right to exist."
Mrs Soubry's remarks do not make any specific reference to 'terminally-ill' people, but referred to those who go abroad to commit suicide, who have included disabled people of different ages, some with long-life expectancy.

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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Danish study suggests much higher maternal death rates after abortion compared with delivery

Top story:

Major new study from Denmark reveals significantly higher maternal death rates following abortion compared with normal delivery
A new study of half-a-million Danish women suggests significantly higher maternal death rates following abortion compared with delivery. The study follows studies from Finland and Scotland which suggest that abortion is a risk-factor for premature births in subsequent pregnancies. [Peter Saunders, 6 September] John Smeaton, SPUC's chief executive, commented: "The truth is that abortion is bad for women and these studies are providing compelling evidence of that truth."

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Euthanasia
Population
  • UK Home Secretary refuses to set formal 70m population cap [Mail, 7 September]
  • 75% of new mothers would stay at home to bring up their child if they could afford to, suggests survey [Mail, 7 September]
  • Civil rights activist asks Apple to speak out against China's one-child policy [Macworld, 6 September]
Sexual ethics
General
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Support the vital 'Ocean to Ocean' pro-life pilgrimage

Against the background of a rapidly-deepening global attack on life, leaders of pro-life movements of 16 European and Asian countries met on Saturday 28 January at the Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Poland. The protection of the Civilisation of Life and Love throughout the world was entrusted into the loving hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. The Act of Entrustment which inaugurated From Ocean to Ocean makes both the situation and its aim quite clear. During a ceremony Archbishop. S. Nowak blessed a specially-created replica of the Częstochowa Icon with the intention of protecting life. The icon was then entrusted to the Russian Orthodox pro-life movement, a small band of whom have now have successfully brought it on  a pilgrimage of 25,000 difficult kilometres across the Russian Far East, Siberia, Kazakstan and European Russia for the veneration of Christians.

This epic pilgrimage will continue in England and Scotland between 5 to 16 November 2012. Please:

For further information, please contact:
Dr.Thomas Ward dr.thomas.ward@btinternet.com
Member of the international executive
From Ocean to Ocean
Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life
Founder and Vice-President of the National Association of Catholic Families (NACF)
From Ocean to Ocean is under the auspices of:
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Premature births more likely in post-abortive women, suggest studies

Women who have had three or more abortions run higher risk of giving birth to a premature and low-weight baby, suggests Finnish study
Findings in a study of 31,000 Finnish women suggest that women who have had three or more abortions run a higher risk of giving birth to a premature and low-weight baby. [Press Association, 30 August] In a related story, a Scottish study has suggested that there is a risk of premature birth after only one abortion. [Telegraph, 5 September] Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's Publications and Education Manager said: "The study by Dr Reija Klemetti and her colleagues should lead researchers to investigate further the consequences of repeat abortions on mothers and children. The abortion industry not only lacks all concern for the unborn child it targets but frequently expresses outrage at research indicating that abortion can have serious physical and psychological consequences for the woman. We best support women by giving them all the facts: any honest researcher who seeks to look into the effects of abortion on the woman and subsequent children she conceives should be supported."

Other stories:

Abortion
Embryology
Population
  • Half of UK women delay starting family because they don't want to give up freedom, suggests survey [Mail, 5 September]
Sexual ethics
General
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Monday, 3 September 2012

Anthony McCarthy rebuts the vices of bad science

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, has written the following response to the latest attack on SPUC's campaign against same-sex marriage:
"Following a dishonest article in Pink News, a website called (without irony) Vice published a hit piece about SPUC’s real marriage campaign. Although the writer was given various materials by SPUC (lobby briefing, position paper, background paper) containing academic sources for our claims, he declined to peruse these – or if he did, no hint emerges from his post.

SPUC has already pointed out in our literature that in the UK babies conceived outside of marriage are about 4-5 times more likely to be aborted than those conceived inside marriage. (Unmarried status and abortion are also closely linked in the US  as we mentioned in a blogpost on this issue earlier this year.)

Moves which undermine marriage by redefining it out of existence will inevitably impact harmfully on society. Aurel Kolnai, the philosopher, pointed this out in relation to proposals for ‘trial marriage’:
“as though the genuine attempt to give oneself in marriage were possible for a trial period! As though real marriage could ever develop at all in a society adapted to officially approved weekend relationships finalised as forms of life.”
The evidence for the importance of traditional family structure for children’s well-being is overwhelming. For example:
In the case of abortion: have we, in fact, seen an overall increase in abortion rates in those countries (very few countries) where same-sex marriage has been legalised for more than five years? Perhaps not, but would we really expect such an increase, after such a relatively short period? Just as with easy divorce laws, these things take time: would any serious social scientist expect an effect so soon? Yet as with easy divorce laws, it is not unreasonable to expect an adverse effect of same-sex marriage on attitudes to marriage, sex and children – even if these attitudes are likely to be already somewhat damaged in the countries in question. We are after all, talking about a radical redefiniton of marriage. Now it is no longer connected to - or consummated by - the life-giving kind of act (if not always fertile in practice) of a kind of union built around and oriented to the conception, welcome and nurture of new human beings.

Of course, many societal pressures, pulling in different directions, will affect the abortion rate in any given country. What we can say, however, is that where traditional marriage has been weakened and where the sexual revolution has been fostered by those who wish to displace the central role of traditional marriage in society, children suffer, and unborn children suffer most. Hardly surprising when adults’ ‘sexual rights’ trump considerations of the common good and the genuine rights and dignity of all. SPUC will continue to reiterate this message in season and out – confident in the science and the basic human experience behind our message.

Following Vice's scientifically naïve piece, Dr Ben Goldacre, someone who claims to detect ‘bad science’ on a regular basis, weighed in on Twitter. He wrote:
A hipster from Vice talks to an idiot about science. http://m.vice.com/en_ca/read/gays-getting-married-will-make-everyone-get-abortions
Of course, Dr Goldacre identifies no error in what we said. This is the same Dr Goldacre whose smear tactics against Professor Priscilla Coleman and her research on abortion and mental health – research boldly defended by the pro-choice researcher David Fergusson - have been exposed. Dr Goldacre never, of course, utters a word against the ‘bad science’ claims of the abortion industry regarding mental health (refuted by papers such as "Reactions to abortion and subsequent mental health", David M. Fergusson et al., British Journal of Psychiatry, 2009), or the claims about gay parenting made by the pro-abortion American Psychological Association (see "Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting". Dr Goldacre also lends support to the British Humanist Association, whose 'commitment' to truth and science in regard to abortion has also been exposed.

It is perhaps fitting that Dr Goldacre should, in the end, be unable to contain his contempt for young human life, as this obscene retweet reveals:
o..m...f...g... RT @robertofoddai: they even have a cute upset fetus as a logo... http://bit.ly/RRlwpq
Dr Goldacre may wish to know that the logo he sneers at simply reflects real-life images of unborn children, including those now available in high-resolution ultrasound Seeing a photograph of one such baby drew the sad comment from one post-abortive woman, remembering her own baby aborted at 12 weeks, that the baby was not only human, but recognizably so.

SPUC is here to defend such babies and their mothers, in relation to threats which arise in different areas of social life, including threats to marriage, the institution that has always offered them protection. Our aim in all we do is to honour, not dishonour, truth, science and the dignity of all human beings."
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Read this barn-storming article by Cardinal O'Brien on same-sex marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic church in Scotland, has written a barn-storming article (full text below) for today's Mail on Sunday, in which he exposes the flimsy assurances by the Scottish government on same-sex marriage, and concludes:
"While I pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, I can assure the Scottish Government that together with Scotland’s silent majority, we will continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society."
Here are the things you need to join Cardinal O'Brien and SPUC in working to stop same-sex marriage:
Cardinal O'Brien - Mail on Sunday - Sunday 2 September 2012
"In the course of recent months the “debate” on Same Sex Marriage has ebbed and flowed to little real effect. The Scottish Government set itself on a course to redefine marriage and notwithstanding the inconvenient truth of a public consultation on the matter, which returned a 65% “no” vote; it remains set on that course.

We are told that the parliamentary process involved will require action by both the Scottish and UK parliaments and a raft of new guidance for employers and others. This is because the administration actually promised two things: legislation permitting same sex marriage and protection from compulsion for those opposed.

Amongst the most overused replies to the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage redefinition is the hackneyed; “no church will be forced to carry out same sex marriages” Incredibly, proponents of the change seem to think that by simple repetition this empty phrase will somehow develop meaning. The Church opposed the Abortion Act passed in 1967, and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act passed in 1990, even although none of these legislative acts imposed any requirement or burden on the church it opposed them vigorously and completely. Why? Simply because it cares for society and humanity. This includes a deep concern for the vast majority of our fellow human beings who are not Catholics.

The religious identity of the tens of thousands of women who have had abortions over the past 45 years is irrelevant to the church as is the religious affiliations which countless thousands of embryos might have enjoyed had they been allowed to survive into child and adulthood rather than ending up in laboratory waste. The Church addresses the great human suffering they all represent. It is motivated by compassion for life, all human life.

The Catholic Church cares that across the Western world young men and women, but especially men, who are coming to terms with same sex attraction, are being prematurely locked into what may be a passing phase in their sexual identity, and are being encouraged and even urged into potentially harmful patterns of behaviour, which even our own NHS Scotland admit leave them, “disproportionately affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Earlier this year I suggested that the disingenuous attempt to marginalise church concerns by repeating the mantra “you won’t have to take part” was a bit like Government legalising slavery with the words “you won’t need to keep a slave” It would be hypocritical. Many, then and since chose to mischievously and maliciously misquote my comments and suggest I had equated homosexuality with slavery – which I demonstrably hadn’t. This deceitful dissembling however did cause me to draw a very serious conclusion; many of those who support Same Sex Marriage do not want to engage in detailed debate on the subject, rather they prefer to attack, to marginalise and to misrepresent.

I take this opportunity to restate some of the concerns of the Church, concerns which have previously been ridiculed or ignored.

Along with others, we have asked what can stop further erosion and destruction of the meaning of marriage once it ceases to be the relationship between a man and a woman and becomes the recognition of a commitment made by adults who love one another? Such redefinition must surely, logically allow for multiple partners to enter into “marriage” we have warned.

Our warnings have been dismissed. Yet, earlier this week we read reports from Brazil, where a civil partnership between three people has been officially recognised in the state of Sao Paolo. The relationship between one man and two women was passed by public notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues, who said the trio were entitled to “family rights” adding "What we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today," The notary said in granting the wishes of the man and two women, that there was nothing in law that prevents such an arrangement. The trio have lived together in Rio de Janeiro for three years, and have a common bank account and share bills and expenses.

Along with others, we have warned that opt outs from legislation can easily be overturned. If Parliament votes to protect religious celebrants from being compelled to conduct Same Sex Marriages it can just as easily vote to overturn that protection.

Earlier this summer the Danish Parliament voted to force churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies inside their sanctuaries, although one-third of all the denomination’s priests say they will not participate in such rituals.

Denmark’s Parliament voted by an overwhelming 85-24 margin to compel churches to carry out unions for same-sex couples that are identical to heterosexual marriage celebrations. The law took effect in June, overturning the previous decision to allow churches to opt out. Interestingly and worryingly, in this context the Scottish Government’s rhetoric has focussed on protecting “religious celebrants” rather than churches.

Along with others, we have warned that even if religious ceremonies are not forced on churches allowing the use of their premises may well be. In April of this year - The city council of Hutchinson, Kansas, considered enacting a new statute adding sexual orientation and sexual identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy in all public accommodations. The measure would specifically include churches that rent their property to the public.

According to a city spokesman; “If a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party,” such as a same-sex ceremony or reception.
Religious facilities, including churches, “would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals,” Meryl Dye, a spokeswoman for the Hutchinson Human Relations Commission, confirmed. “Unless the city council includes an exemption for churches, it would generate a discrimination complaint for the gay couple and it would be investigated” – and possibly lead to a fine.

Each of these cases confirms and expands on the fears and concerns we have expressed. They show where this debate is going and our media and our politicians have almost universally ignored them.

Launching a National Marriage Sunday in the Catholic Church last week, I said that the Church's teaching on marriage was unequivocal; it is uniquely, the union of a man and a woman and it is wrong that Governments, politicians or Parliaments should seek to alter or destroy that reality.

While I pray that our elected leaders will sustain rather than subvert marriage, I can assure the Scottish Government that together with Scotland’s silent majority, we will continue to do everything we can to convince them that redefining marriage would be wrong for society."
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Bishop Davies calls on Christians to take personal stand against same-sex marriage

Mark Davies, the Catholic bishop of Shrewsbury, has called on Christians to make a “personal stand of faith” in response to the push for same-sex marriage. In a homily (full text, also below) at a Mass celebrated jointly for the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers at Chester, Bishop Davies said:
“In the gentle reign of Queen Elizabeth II Christians have been threatened in their employment or even brought before courts for their witness and the Church’s social care agencies have been closed down by legislation which recognises no place for the Christian conscience.

“The determination of the present Coalition Government to legally re-define marriage may soon present new questions of conscience and legal threats to those who continue to profess the truth about marriage as the lasting union of one man and one woman."
SPUC has also issued a call for people to take a personal stand against the move for same-sex marriage - see our lobby alert of 3 August and our materials below:
Bishop Mark Davies, homily at the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Women’s League & Union of Catholic Mothers 30th August 2012
"This week we have seen Hurricane Isaac gathering off the coast of America and the anxious preparations for the moment this tropical storm finally strikes land. Our ancestors lacked computer simulations mapping out the likely courses of hurricanes but they were attentive to the atmospheric changes portending storms to come. Today, as Christians, we increasingly notice such changes within the atmosphere of British society often manifested in a growing hostility to the public profession of faith. Changes in attitude which are sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant when in the gentle reign of Queen Elizabeth II Christians have been threatened in their employment or even brought before courts for their witness and the Church’s social care agencies have been closed down by legislation which recognises no place for the Christian conscience. The determination of the present Coalition Government to legally re-define marriage may soon present new questions of conscience and legal threats to those who continue to profess the truth about marriage as the lasting union of one man and one woman.

It would be exaggerating to suggest that Christians in Britain face outright persecution. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, showed us clearly during those unforgettable days of September 2010 there remains a vital place for the Christian voice and witness in the public square. However, it would be foolish to ignore these atmospheric changes around us which may point to a gathering storm for believers. We must not fail to heed the repeated words of Our Lord in the Gospel, “stay awake …” and “stand ready …” (Mt.24: 42,44) nor can we fail to take courage from the Apostle’s assurance today that: “He will keep you steady and without blame until the last day” which will be “the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:9). The truth of Christ will finally prevail. Of this have no doubt. In the meantime, Pope Benedict reminded us yesterday, the truth is the truth. Recalling the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist the Holy Father reflected he, “did not keep silent about the truth, and thus he died for Christ who is the Truth … Christians in our times …” Pope Benedict said, “cannot give in to compromise when it comes to the love of Christ, for his Word, for his Truth” (General Audience 29th August 2012).

Today we remember three women of such faith and courage honoured by you as the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers. From Yorkshire we honour Margaret Clitheroe; from Essex, Anne Line; and from our own Diocese of Shrewsbury we honour Margaret Ward, born in Congleton within this Cheshire County. All are now recognised as Saints of the whole Church because when a storm broke across their lives, their homes and families, they continued standing in the faith they shared. On this August day in 1588 St. Margaret Ward crippled by appalling torture went to the gallows accompanied by four lay men and one priest. The contemporary record tells us they went to Tyburn singing! At her trial she had told the judge that she would be ready to lay down many lives, if she had them, rather than go against her conscience or do anything “against God and His holy religion”. St Margaret Ward saw that the truth is the truth and she could not, in the Holy Father’s words, give way to compromise when it came to the love of Christ or His Truth, no matter how ferocious the storm or how tempting the false promises of a short-lived peace.

Pope Paul VI when announcing his intention to canonise these three women among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales spoke of their “genuine faith which will have nothing to do with ambiguity or false compromise”. Pope Paul wanted to high-light their example of Christian charity in an age which had stirred up hatred, “such attitudes,” he said, “are completely foreign to these heroes of the Christian faith.” Speaking more than 40 years ago this prophetic Pope spoke of the threat to the spiritual heritage of our civilization and wanted future generations to recognise that, “these blessed martyrs did not hesitate to surrender their lives in obedience to the clear voice of conscience and the will of God, and are a glowing testimony to human dignity and liberty” (18th May 1970). In this way Pope Paul foresaw that the witness of these Saints and Martyrs of a previous era would speak clearly to our own.

Pope Benedict is now inviting us to celebrate a “Year of Faith” from October this year until the Solemnity of Christ the King next year. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the great ecclesial event of our life-time, and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” as its authentic fruit. The Holy Father tells us that professing our Catholic faith must lead to “public testimony and commitment.”

“A Christian,” he writes, “may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with Him … The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person” (Porta Fidei no. 9). Among the initiatives in this Shrewsbury Diocese I am asking all our parishes to consider a public act of witness to the faith we share within their own circumstances and locality. It was, indeed, wonderful to see on the streets and roadways of London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Glasgow this public testimony in those great crowds during Pope Benedict’s visit to our country almost two years ago. Yet it is with those brave and holy women honoured today that we each recognise the need for that personal stand of faith amidst the gathering storms of our life-time so future generations may echo the words of St. Paul today: “the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you” (I Cor. 1: 6). May it be so, Amen."
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
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy