Saturday, 2 March 2013

Same-sex 'marriage' has negative effects, shows latest evidence

The experience of legalising marriage for same-sex couples in Europe and North America shows that such legalisation has negative effects for real marriage and for families, shows latest evidence.

The evidence was presented to the House of Commons committee examining the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, in a written submission by Dr Patricia Morgan, the British family policy researcher, on behalf of SPUC. The submission can be read in full at www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/ssmsub20130301

Based on research and data from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and the US, Dr Morgan concluded that:
  • as marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, this reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood
  • same-sex marriage leads to the casualisation of heterosexual unions and separation of marriage and parenthood
  • Spain saw a pronounced acceleration in the decline of marriage following the introduction of same-sex marriage (same-sex marriage was introduced at the same time as the ‘express divorce bill’)
  • across all countries analysed, no causal link has been established to support the idea that same-sex marriage prevents marital decline
  • in the move to same-sex marriage, opposite-sex relationships have to conform to gay norms rather than vice-versa
  • a publicly-professed, legal, partnership does not prevent homosexual couples from breaking up more frequently than married heterosexual couples
  • experience with same-sex partnerships/marriage legislation tends to suggest that availability is all, and participation more or less irrelevant to sexual minorities
  • same-sex marriage may be the end-game of long-running anti-marriage, anti-family policy typified by Sweden
  • same-sex marriage may begin the process of severing marriage from family in otherwise family-friendly societies such as Spain and the Netherlands
  • same-sex marriage triggers dismemberment of family structures in family-friendly societies.
As a pro-life organisation, SPUC campaigns against same-sex marriage because:
  • marriage - the permanent, exclusive union of one man and one woman - is the basis of the family, the fundamental group unit of society. Upholding marriage is therefore in everyone’s interests.
  • marriage as an institution protects children, both born and unborn. Statistics show that unborn children are much safer within marriage than outside marriage.
  • same-sex marriage lacks basic elements of true marriage e.g. the complementary sexual difference between spouses necessary for the procreation and healthy upbringing of children.
  • same-sex marriage represents an attempt to redefine marriage, thus undermining marriage. This undermining lessens the protection for unborn children which true marriage provides.
SPUC is working with the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) to oppose the British government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage. SPUC published a position paper on same-sex marriage following a resolution by SPUC's Council. SPUC has also made available a background paper to be read in conjunction with the position paper and which provides some additional references and reflections.

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Friday, 1 March 2013

Irish, British & European politicians defend anti-abortion laws in Ireland

From left to right: Ian Paisley Jnr MP (DUP)
Dana Rosemary Scallon, former MEP,
Paul Givan MLA (DUP),
chair of the Northern Ireland
Assembly Justice Committee,
and Fianna Fail Senator, Jim Walsh
Today in Northern Ireland's Parliament Buildings, Stormont, a coalition partnership of politicians from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Britain and Europe stressed the vital importance of not decriminalising abortion in the Republic of Ireland and of upholding the 1861 Offences against the Person Act, sections 58 & 59, which prohibit abortion.

The coalition included Jim Wells MLA, Danny Kennedy MLA, Paul Givan MLA, Pat Ramsey MLA, Jim Walsh a member of the Irish Senate, along with Ian Paisley Junior MP, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and former MEPs Dana Rosemary Scallon and Kathy Sinnott, and pro-life leaders Bernie Smyth, of Precious Life, and Liam Gibson of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. There were messages of support from Edwin Vassallo MP of Government Party of Malta, from British Parliamentarians, Lord David Alton, Lord Windsor, and Fiona Bruce MP, and from European parliamentarians Luca Volonté MEP, and Diane Dodds MEP.

The message from the meeting of politicians was:
  • Under the 1861 Offences against the Person Act, sections 58 & 59 ban abortion in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • The role of Government is to uphold the Law.
  • The weakest and most vulnerable in society must not be systematically dehumanized by catchy slogans, clever marketing, slick advertising and aggressive lobbying.
Senator Jim Walsh stated that abortion is barbaric. Jeffrey Donaldson MP, said the first duty of a politician is to protect the vulnerable and no one is more vulnerable than the unborn. Ian Paisley Jnr. MP, stated murder had been taken from the streets of Northern Ireland and it would be a great shame if it was to give way to the killing of the unborn. He also that Dr Ian Paisley (senior) fully supported this core group initiative.

Pat Ramsey MLA said that the SDLP is a pro-life party and defends the right to life of the unborn. Paul Givan MLA, stated that the pro-life position unites communities and Sinn Fein must reflect on their opposition to legislation designed to protect unborn children. Danny Kennedy MLA, said the pro-life point of view represents the majority. Former MEP Kathy Sinnott said that politicians must move out of their comfort zones to defend the right to life and if a woman’s life is in danger then she should be in a hospital and not an abortion clinic. Dana Rosemary Scallon said that all values are worth defending and at this moment "we must defend the value of life since the fundamental right to life is the basis of all other rights".

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The Tablet tells the Catholic Church to surrender

This week's editorial in The Tablet (which claims to be an "international Catholic weekly", but which is actually the de facto house-journal of British dissent from Catholic teaching) urges the Catholic Church to surrender in the campaign against same-sex marriage, telling the Church to:
"make peace with the gay world and move on".
Using the well-worn dirty trick of counting the votes of nominally-Catholic MPs as Catholic votes, the editorial suggests - with zero evidence - that even raising the profile of the issue of same-sex marriage may have been counter-productive in generating opposition to it.

The Tablet tries to justify its position by saying:
"Technically yes, homosexuality is against the rules – but so is contraception; so is living together before marriage; so are lots of things people do together in private. As the late Archbishop Derek Worlock once said of contraception, these issues are “not the acid test of Christianity”."
As a Catholic, I suggest that The Tablet's editorial staff go on a remedial course in the Gospels, especially focusing on Our Lord's words in Mathew 5:18:
"For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven."
I also recommend they they reflect deeply on Matthew 18:17:
"If he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican."
Until then, as Fr Timothy Finigan has rightly put it:
"[The Tablet] has no place in any Catholic home, parish Church, or Cathedral. Tabula delenda est."
In that vein I recommend that readers support the recently-launched Facebook petition "Close the Tablet - Tabula delenda est!"

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Thursday, 28 February 2013

The government buries conscience-rights in a grave of non-answers and ignorance

Hugh Robertson MP, minister
There was an interesting set of exchanges during Tuesday's session of the House of Commons committee examining the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, extracts from which I reproduce below. In short, the Government singularly failed to answer the basic question: why are doctors allowed to exercise conscientious objection to abortion but registrars will not be allowed to exercise conscientious objection to same-sex marriage? The best - and most chilling - attempt at an answer by the government was the following from Hugh Robertson MP, the minister:
"I spent some time as a young man in the Army, and there are plenty of cases in which the Government take a decision and expect public servants to carry it out ... What I do know, and what I absolutely believe in personally, is that if the House passes a piece of legislation, there is a duty on public servants to carry it out. That duty is part of a process in a democracy... Registrars are public servants. If a Bill is passed in this House with a very considerable majority, as was the case on Second Reading—I do not know what will happen in future—then registrars, as public servants, are under an obligation to carry out the duties contained in that Bill, plain and simple."
My question to Mr Robertson is: How does that make the implementation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Equality Bill any different from the implementation of the Enabling Act passed by the Reichstag in 1933, which made Hitler dictator of Germany? Both were voted for by a very considerable majority, in a democracy. I would also ask Mr Robertson: What does he suggest that registrars who object to same-sex marriage say to God, their churches, their family and friends, when they are asked: 'Why did you go against your conscience and solemnize same-sex marriages?' Perhaps Mr Robertson would suggest that they adopt the famously-failed 'Nuremberg Defence' - 'I was just obeying orders'? As a former Army officer, Mr Robertson's failure to acknowledge the right to conscientious objection - a well-established concept in regard to military personnel and others - is shocking.

Extracts from the 6th session of the Public Bill Committee of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, 26 February 2013:

Tim Loughton:
"Our law does not state to doctors that they must choose between acting in violation of their conscience by providing an abortion service and losing their livelihood, nor does it say to would-be doctors that those with a conscientious objection to the provision of abortion need not apply. Yet the propagation of such discrimination will be the precise effect of the Bill..."
Hugh Robertson:
"It would not be right, in our view, to allow public servants to pick and choose their duties..."
Tim Loughton:
"The Minister has just used the phrase “pick and choose”. How is this different from allowing another public servant, a surgeon, to pick and choose whether to perform an abortion?"
Hugh Robertson:
"Generally speaking, I believe all these cases are different. There are plenty of issues. I spent some time as a young man in the Army, and there are plenty of cases in which the Government take a decision and expect public servants to carry it out. That is not an unfair principle in any way."
Tim Loughton:
"Why is it the principle that a surgeon who has strong Catholic views is allowed to pick and choose whether to perform abortions or other surgery, if the same principle cannot be applied to a Catholic registrar with strong views, allowing them to pick and choose whether to perform that other public service? What is so essentially different that we protect one but not the other?"
Hugh Robertson:
"It is because they are different functions; that is the short answer."
Tim Loughton:
"That is not an answer."
Hugh Robertson:
"Yes, it is. They are different functions. One is an abortion; the other is a same-sex marriage."
Tim Loughton:
"Why do we protect religious views on abortion but not the religious views of registrars, when in both cases public servants perform a public function, for which the public pay? They are different, but saying they are different is not a justification for treating them differently."
Hugh Robertson:
"It is about whether that is in the Bill; that is the short answer. It is relevant that in the extensive consultation period the national body responsible did not ask for that exemption. I do not know whether that was the case when the Abortion Act 1967 was put on the book, and what representations were made by the professional bodies at that point; but the issue was not raised."
Tim Loughton:
"To confirm what the Minister says, the Government are picking and choosing who has an exemption and who does not."
Hugh Robertson:
"No. The Government have laid out a very straightforward process in the Bill, which does not provide the exemption that my hon. Friend wants. The Government envisage that if the Bill is passed, registrars as public servants should carry out their functions."
David Burrowes:
"To pursue the Minister’s logic about the difference between the two functions, the Government have decided that in relation to the function of registration there will be protection, exemption and respect for the conscientious objection of religious organisations, but that does not include registrars, superintendant registrars or the Registrar General. There is an acceptance by the Government that one cannot distinguish a public function, given that non-Church of England organisations will effectively be licensed to register same-sex marriages. Why, then, do the Government want to distinguish between religious organisations and individual registrars when it comes to protections? They give some protection—but not in the case of a registrar."
Hugh Robertson:
"The simple answer is because they perform different functions. ..."
At the debate's conclusion, Mr Robertson said:
"I will be very, very clear about this: I do not know what led to the provisions in the Abortion Act 1967 to which my hon. Friend referred. I do not know what the thinking was behind them and I was not part of that debate. What I do know, and what I absolutely believe in personally, is that if the House passes a piece of legislation, there is a duty on public servants to carry it out. That duty is part of a process in a democracy, which is precisely why I would resist new clause 5. Registrars are public servants. If a Bill is passed in this House with a very considerable majority, as was the case on Second Reading—I do not know what will happen in future—then registrars, as public servants, are under an obligation to carry out the duties contained in that Bill, plain and simple."
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

New abortion law in Northern Ireland reflects alarm about Marie Stopes

SPUC has said that new legislation on abortion introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly is a response to the level of public concern aroused by the arrival in Northern Ireland of Marie Stopes International (MSI).

Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer, believes that the opening of the MSI abortion facility in Belfast in October last year left the Assembly with no choice but to address the threat posed by abortion businesses determined to defy the existing law.

Liam told the media earlier today:
"MSI has long campaigned to make the Abortion Act in Britain even more liberal and then have the amended Act extended to Northern Ireland.

There are also serious safety concerns regarding MSI. The drugs used to procure medical abortions are extremely dangerous and are known to have caused the deaths of 15 women worldwide, including Manon Jones, an 18 year-old from Bristol and Jesse-Maye Barlow, a 19 year-old from Staines.

When questioned before the Assembly's Justice Committee in January, representatives from MSI said that there was nothing to stop them from aborting babies at 18 weeks, 24 weeks or even older. They also admitted that the location of the centre, close to the Europa bus and train station, was chosen to facilitate clients travelling from the Republic to have abortions in Northern Ireland.

At the same time they made it clear that MSI simply would not tolerate any official oversight of its activities by the government authorities in Northern Ireland. That is a position which the Assembly can't allow to continue and made the introduction of new legislation inevitable."
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Northern Ireland abortion court-case shows abortion-lobby desperate

SPUC, which twice forced the Northern Ireland Department of Health to withdraw misleading guidance on the Province’s abortion law, has said that abortion advocates are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of success they have had in winning support for their agenda. SPUC made its remarks as an application for a judicial review brought by the Family Planning Association of Northern Ireland was beginning in the High Court in Belfast.

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s Northern Ireland development officer, told the media this morning:
“The FPA first took the health department to court over 10 years ago to demand guidelines on abortion law but has made little progress in that time. Despite its efforts, abortion in Northern Ireland remains presumptively illegal. Abortion is not a healthcare issue but a criminal offence. There is no research to show any medical benefits to abortion but there is a vast amount of evidence demonstrating how incredibly damaging it can be to a woman’s physical and mental health.

The reason the FPA is trying once again to pressurise the Department of Health to publish guidelines is because it wants to medicalise discussion of abortion. Despite the claims of abortion advocates, the law is perfectly clear and really requires no guidance. The reason SPUC was successful in having the guidance withdrawn on the two occasions was because those documents failed to accurately reflect the law.

Crucially, the FPA will only ever be satisfied with guidance which makes abortion routinely available. Guidelines that accurately reflect the law would not be acceptable to the FPA because it refuses to accept that current Northern Ireland law protects the right to life of unborn children.”
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Monday, 25 February 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 25 Feb

Top story:

SPUC thanks Cardinal O'Brien for his record of speaking out for life and family
SPUC has thanked His Eminence Cardinal Keith O'Brien, archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, on the occasion of his retirement, for the many times in which he spoke out forcefully in defence of unborn children and of the family founded on marriage between one man and one woman. John Smeaton, SPUC director, commented: "I am particularly grateful for the personal support which he gave to SPUC and to me in my role as SPUC director. He can be assured of my prayers and those of SPUC supporters for him and for his successor." [John Smeaton, 25 February]

Other stories:

Abortion
  • Another unworkable proposal from NHS ‘experts’ on morning-after pill [Peter Saunders, 23 February]
  • Cardinal Arinze: Being ‘personally’ against abortion is like saying ‘personally’ against shooting members of Congress [Pat Buckley, 22 February]
Embryology
Sexual ethics
  • Top donor Lord Ashcroft drops support for Tory party over gay marriage, claim reports [Mail, 24 February]
  • Local chairman in David Cameron's constituency resigns over gay marriage plans [Telegraph, 24 February]
  • SNP 'could lose votes from Catholics and Muslims' over gay marriage [STV, 24 February]
  • Congratulations to World Congress of Families for withdrawing invitation to Iain Duncan Smith [John Smeaton, 23 February]
General
  • UK Border Agency endangering pregnant women's health, claims report [BBC, 25 February]
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SPUC thanks Cardinal O'Brien for his record of speaking out for life and family

On behalf of SPUC, I wish to thank His Eminence Cardinal Keith O'Brien, archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, on the occasion of his retirement, for the many times in which he spoke out forcefully in defence of unborn children and of the family founded on marriage between one man and one woman. I am particularly grateful for the personal support which he gave to SPUC and to me in my role as SPUC director. He can be assured of my prayers and those of SPUC supporters for him and for his successor.

Below are a selection of among the best of Cardinal O'Brien's pro-life/pro-family statements:

"SPUC has worked tirelessly in Scotland and the UK to fight the evil of abortion for almost 40 years but we must recognise that what really can be described as the forces of darkness have distorted the laws and consciences in our nation and that our situation is now worse than ever ... I'm here to strengthen the resolve of SPUC and I hope that they and other pro-life groups will extend their message more and more in the world in which we live." SPUC Scotland conference, 25 October 2008. In spite of his hectic schedule, the cardinal stayed for the entire conference.

"Our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has given the government's support to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. It is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation which, more comprehensively, attacks the sanctity and dignity of human life than this particular bill." (23 March 2008)

"We are facing a crisis in society and we must ask ourselves is human life important to us or is it not?...[The Human Fertilisation and Embryology] Bill is a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life. …MPs must search their hearts and their consciences in this extra time in which they have been given to decide whether or not the value of human life really matters or whether or not it is simply one more commodity to be cast aside in our throw-away society."  (July 2008)

"Such behaviour [the procedures proposed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill] was last seen under the Nazis. Following the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945, the full horrors of the Nazi’s atrocities were revealed to a shocked world. The hideous savagery of their experiments convinced the civilized world that such practices must be outlawed forever." [28 October 2008]

"The 2008 abortion statistics confirm the abject failure of the so called 'sexual health strategy' of recent years. They represent a human rights violation, in our midst, on a massive scale. We destroy 53 unborn children each day in Scotland. Were this carnage to take place among children lucky enough to have been born our outrage would be boundless. The victims of this inhuman and degrading violence are firstly the 13,817 Scottish children killed before they have been born and then the thousands of women who agree to their own off-spring being aborted ... [When i]n 2007 I claimed that 'we kill the equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day' many objected to the vehemence of my language. Grotesquely, since then we have seen classroom sizes in Scotland fall and abortion numbers rise. Today we abort over 50 children per day or two classrooms full. These statistics shame and debase us all ..." [26 May 2009]

"The Church's teaching on marriage is 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." (22 August 2012)

"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." (2 September 2012)

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