Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pray for life in Walsingham on Monday, 8th April

Leeds People For Life are organizing their 10th annual pilgrimage in thanksgiving for the gift of life on Monday, 8th April, next Monday week - and for the intentions of the Pope.

For Catholics in Britain, there can be no more important place to pray for life and for the family than at a shrine of which the history began nearly1000 years ago in 1061.

In the Middle Ages Walsingham was known throughout Europe as Little Nazareth - the home of the Holy Family. During that thousand years, there can never have been a greater peril to the sanctity of life, to marriage and to the family than there is today - threatened as they are are by the policies of David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, and all the leaders of the major parties in Parliament.

As Pope John Paul II said: “ ... a great prayer for life is urgently needed ... ”, Evangelium Vitae 100.

For those making the trip from Yorkshire a coach picks up in a coach picks up: Bradford, Foster Sq. Railway Station at 6-30; at Leeds.Playhouse 6.45; at St Theresa’s Crossgates at 7.00; at Wakefield, Kirkgate at 7.30. The local contact is Annemarie tel 019246948661.  The price for the trip is £16. For further information telephone:  01132582745 or 07747698553.

At the Walsingham shrine, there will be Mass at 12 midday, the feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham - with an afternoon programme including a Holy Hour, Divine Mercy prayers, the Holy mile walk, and Stations of the Cross, plus a visit to the priory grounds or to the Anglican shrine.

I'm sure that travellers from Yorkshire will be delighted to meet with pilgrims from elsewhere on Monday week.  (I shall be in Fatima on that day for the final event in the pilgrimage of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestechowa - when the Icon will reach the Atlantic Ocean after a 65,000 kilometre journey from the coast of the Pacific Ocean at Vladivostok.  During the pilgrimage around 250 thousand leaflets in 15 languages have been distributed and at every destination there has been an act of entrusting the protection of the civilisation of life and love into the hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.)

Given the apparently overwhelming threats facing life, marriage, parents and the family, as a Catholic I believe there's nothing happening in the world on Monday, 8th April, which is more important that the Leeds People for Life pilgrimage to Walsingham.

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Friday, 29 March 2013

African and other nations strike blow for the family at Human Rights Council

I am proud of the work done by Pat Buckley (right), on SPUC's behalf, and on all of our behalves, at the Human Rights Council this past month.

Pat Buckley,who for many years has been lobbying on behalf of SPUC at the Human Rights Council (HRC), has reported to me on an important blow in defence of families by pro-life and pro-family forces in Geneva - and a major embarrassment for Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Pat tells me:
"The High Commissioner issued a report on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. Navanethem Pillay's report was appalling and I immediately set about preparing and sending out an analysis of the report to the delegates at the HRC from friendly nations. I told them:
  • This report sets out an agenda for children’s health that includes "comprehensive sexuality education" (CSE), and access to so called "confidential" sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services including abortion.
  • It attacks cultural norms and parental rights by identifying barriers, which make access to both CSE and SRH services difficult for children, such as cultural values and parental consent laws.
  • The High Commissioner, in the report, erroneously expands the meaning of article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) claiming that it addresses children's need to access so-called "comprehensive sexuality education" [JS notes: "Comprehensive Sexuality Education" is a term promoted by the UN to include the right of children to access to contraception regardless of age, to abortion, to sex before marriage, same-sex marriage, and masturbation ... all this and more are promoted in the UNFPA-promoted sex education programme "It's all one curriculum" on which I blogged this month two years ago].
  • The report then goes on to encourage States to review national laws and policies and, where necessary, amend them to ensure consonance with fulfilling the right of the child to health including the removal of barriers relating to comprehensive sexual and reproductive information and services. The barriers were earlier identified as cultural values and parental consent laws.
  • The report cites the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which it says noted its concerns about the impact of highly restrictive abortion laws on the right to health of adolescent girls. The Committee had, it says, requested States to review their legislation on abortion with a view to ensuring that it is in full compliance with the best interests of the child, including by ensuring that single adolescent mothers are allowed access to safe abortions"
Subsequently, Pat tells me, the Human Rights Council held an all day debate on children's rights and, in particular, on the High Commissioner's appalling report. Pat says of the all-day debate:
"Predictably, the report was welcomed by the EU, the US and various other member states. However large groups of states such as the African Group, the Arab Group and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) together with a number of individual states rejected the report claiming that the author, on behalf of the High Commissioner, had exceeded his mandate.
"During the debate, the African Group of member nations told the meeting it had been looking forward to the report but that it had concluded it presents a high-risk and culturally insensitive prescription that disregards the priorities of developing countries and departs from the main legal frame of reference embodied in Article 24 of Convention on the Rights of the Child. The African group said:
  •  ... The family is the natural and fundamental base unit of society and should be perceived as a valuable asset in protecting children’s rights. Against this backdrop, we are alarmed by how the report tackled the issue of seeking information, education, and counselling by children in a way that severely violated the principle of the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parents in guiding and upbringing their children according to their evolving capacities, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and its related educational curricula ...
  • The report used concepts and notions that lack any basis in International Human Rights Law, in a way that deviates from the international consensus on universally recognized and agreed human rights, prejudges the sovereign right of states to create and enact national legislation that reflect their obligations under international human rights law; and likewise disrespects the diversity of cultural, moral, and religious value systems present in different societies.
  • The African Group would like to stress that the occurrence of hazardous behaviors among children, such as sexual activity among minors and drug use, should not be a justification to normalize these practices and accept them. On the contrary, these behaviors must be unequivocally rejected and eradicated through means of parental guidance, awareness, and promotion of abstinence, which the Report failed to realize. Addressing these issues simply from the angle of enhancing precautionary measures while practicing these unacceptable behaviors is counter-productive, and actually makes children more vulnerable to increased risk factors and undermines their right to health.
  • In conclusion, the African Group told the meeting that it would like to register its definitive rejection to the methodology and major parts of the content of this document.
The Arab Group, the Organization of Islamic Conference and a number of other member states, made statements, similar to that of the African Group.
The Egyptian delegate told the meeting that his country "express their deepest disappointment at the Report. Instead of providing a contribution to global and national efforts, the report presents a high-risk and culturally insensitive approach that disregards the priorities of the developing countries and departs from the main legal frame of reference embodied in CRC". The Egyptian delegate also said:
"The family is instrumental in protecting children’s rights. Henceforth, we are alarmed that the report tackled the issue of information, education, healthcare services, and counselling by children in clear departure from the principle of the role of parents in guiding and upbringing their children. International human rights law has unambiguously enshrined this principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Conference of Population and Development".
A battle royal ensued with the EU and other powerful states ranged against the African Group of nations and their allies. The battle concluded with the High Commissioner's report being effectively rejected by the Human Rights Council. The final resolution on children's health took "note" of the all-day debate and took note of the High Commissioner's report. In UN terms, the practice of "taking note" is interpreted as a rejection.
But most significantly, the resolution added two references to the importance of the family, the first, below, in the preamble and the second, below, in the operative section of the report. The resolution states, inter alia:
  • Reaffirming also that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up, in a family environment while the best interest of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his or her nurture and protection and that families’ and caregivers’ capacities to provide the child with care and safe environment should be promoted
  • Reaffirms the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of their rights
What happened in Geneva is, I hope, a sign of better things to come - and shows what can be done when well-informed lobbying combines with the activities of nations, however weak they may be geopolitically, who are doing their best together to resist the population control imperialistic agenda of powerful western nations.  All in all, it represented an important blow for the family by African and other nations - and a significant embarrassment for the mis-named High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Be a leader in the campaign to save marriage

On 5th February 2013, the House of Commons voted by 400 to 175 in support of legalising same-sex marriage. It seems likely that the next major vote in the House of Commons – the third reading – will take place towards the end of May. We believe that this bill can still be stopped. But we need your help.

What you can do

We are looking for leaders to volunteer to co-ordinate local leafleting teams against this legislation.

Door-to-door leafleting is the tried and trusted way of reaching large numbers of people with an important message.

We are targeting specific constituencies where we feel the MP might be convinced to either vote against the bill, or at the very least abstain if they voted in favour of it at second reading.

But it is essential, if our leafleting campaign is going to be effective, that it is organised by committed leaders. Can you lead a leafleting team in your constituency or a nearby constituency on our target list? SPUC can give you all the materials you need to lead a local campaign and can help you to recruit local leafleters.

Will you please help us to do everything we can to stop this dangerous legislation?

Please contact me if you are willing to take a lead, so that we can discuss the practicalities: your nearest targeted constituency etc. You can contact me at the email address immediately below this blogpost.

Many people think that letting people with same-sex attraction get married is only fair. They have no idea of the far-reaching effects of such a move. A recent legal opinion has confirmed that:
• churches will be penalised if they refuse to conduct same-sex marriages
• that teachers will lose their jobs if they fail to teach children about same-sex marriages, and
• that parents will not be allowed to withdraw their children from such lessons.

Moreover, if this legislation is passed then motherless and fatherless families will be institutionalised.

Real marriage protects unborn children. Babies conceived outside marriage are four to five times more likely to be aborted. In undermining the true nature of marriage in law we undermine the institution which gives most protection to unborn children.

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Cameron government's social engineering is blatantly designed to hurt children

Under the headline "Taxman hits stay-home mothers", the Telegraph's lead story this morning reports on the British government's economic policies which, it is thought, "are designed to force mothers back to work to boost the economy".

According to the Telegraph, a study published by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds:
  • "The average family with one worker and two children loses 27.0 per cent of their wages in tax, compared with 26.2 per cent before the Coalition was elected"
  • "The British tax take from traditional families with only one earner is now significantly above the international average"
  • "By contrast, single people and two-earner couples have seen their tax bills fall since 2009 as they have benefited from cuts in the tax-free personal allowance and other changes. Both groups also pay tax below the international average"
  • "A traditional British family with a stay-at-home mother that is classed by the OECD as well-paid – earning more than double the average wage – will pay 40.5 per cent of their earnings in tax, compared with an international average of 38.6 per cent."  
The Telegraph goes on to explain that government ministers "have stripped high-earning families of child benefit this year – a policy which discriminates against households with a single breadwinner. A £1 billion policy to help families with child care costs announced last week is to be made available only to homes where both parents are working."

All of this is happening at a time when:
  • Cameron is personally championing, the Government's Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill which will institutionalize fatherless and motherless families - against the wishes of the majority of Tory MPs
  • An increasing body of robust research show that children do better when brought up by their biological father and mother who are committed to each other in marriage* (See footnote 5)
  • Statistics show that marriage as an institution (the permanent exclusive union of one man and one woman) protects children, both born and unborn** (See footnote 2)
  • Research submitted by SPUC to the House of Commons committee examining the government's same-sex marriage bill shows that in countries where marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, this reinforces the idea that marriage is irrelevant to parenthood and that ...
  • ...  Same-sex marriage leads to the casualisation of heterosexual unions and separation of marriage and parenthood
In brief, the flagship economic and marriage policies of the Cameron government amounts to social engineering which could not be more blatantly designed to hurt the children conceived and growing up in Britain.  Please write to your MP today regarding the growing evidence of the government's  policies which so cruelly discriminate against children and their best interests.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Act to stop Liverpool Care Pathway being used as "backdoor euthanasia"

My colleague, Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, has issued the following stark appeal this afternoon concerning the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Please Act Now to stop the Liverpool Care Pathway being used as 
“backdoor euthanasia” for NHS patients

A number of families have spoken out in the media about the abuses their loved ones have suffered as a result of being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway in hospitals and nursing homes.

Several senior doctors have publicly criticised the use of the Pathway, asserting that it can mean hastening death for vulnerable patients. Patients are dying as a result of the Pathway – not simply from their underlying conditions.

In the face of these criticisms, the government asked Baroness Julia Neuberger to chair a “review” panel. The panel is receiving submissions (letters, emails, etc) from anyone with concerns about the Liverpool Care Pathway. Anyone can make a submission, but the experience of those who have been affected is particularly important (such as patients or relatives, healthcare staff, chaplains, visitors, etc).

The deadline for submissions is Friday, 5 April 2013.

Send submissions to:
Liverpool Care Pathway Review
Department of Health
Richmond House
79 Whitehall
London SW1A 2NS

or by email to:
liverpoolcarepathwayreview@dh.gsi.gov.uk

The review panel has not issued a questionnaire or pro-forma for submissions, so you can write to them in any format you wish, but we give some suggestions below about how to set out your concerns.

The composition of the Neuberger review panel includes leading pro-euthanasia advocates – David Aaronovitch and Professor Emily Jackson; and Baroness Neuberger herself has said (in the annual Tyburn lecture in 2011) that she had “ ... some sympathy with the idea that that people who are already terminally ill and finding their situation unbearable, that they should be given the wherewithal to take their own lives ... ”

It is important that they receive clear statements defending vulnerable people (especially the elderly) from attack, whether by medical abuses or by having the law amended or ignored so that vulnerable people can have their lives deliberately shortened by act or by omission. Please point out that the review panel has no brief to recommend weakening legal protection for the lives of patients.

Contact me at johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk for SPUC's briefing on preparing a submission for the Liverpool Care Pathway Review.

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Monday, 25 March 2013

It's essential the pro-life movement learns from its history

SPUC's chairman, Robin Haig, was for 15 years the chairman of the Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn (ALDU), a body which enjoyed a membership of around three thousand lawyers.

In his must-read ALDU blog, Robin has re-published a review of the Abortion Act 1967, first published in 2002, entitled A BRIEF HISTORY 1966 - 2003.

Robin writes in his introduction to the review:
"Killing unborn children is in itself unjust and could not be accepted in a civilised society. Abortion is seen as a means of effecting social change and, although it has certainly caused great changes in society, those changes have not been those which abortionists claimed would result. The actual changes have been the coarsening of society, the loss of respect for human beings at all stages of life and the promotion of the idea of a life not worth living."
All students of, commentators on - and campaigners against abortion can learn, or be reminded of, key facts about the British Abortion Act 1967, including:
  • The Abortion Act was introduced to Parliament as a private member's bill but " ... the Labour Government of the day, and especially the then Home Secretary Roy Jenkins (the late Lord Jenkins of Hillhead), bent over backwards to help the Bill, allowing extra time and giving support and advice ... ".
  • At the Bill's Second Reading on 22nd July 1966, the Bill's promoter Mr David Steel declared in the House of Commons:"We want to stamp out back-street abortions, but it is not the intention of the Promoters of the Bill to leave a wide open door for abortion on request”.
  • From May 1968 onwards, the number of abortions carried out rose immediately. In 1968 the total number of abortions notified to the Department of Health was 29,581. In 1969 it was 56,890, and in 1970 the total had risen to 88,587.
  • In July 1972 a Dr John Anthony James Smith was found guilty, after a 14-day trial, of performing an illegal abortion, a decision that was upheld on appeal. The facts of the case read like a horror story,but the sentence received by the abortionist at his trial at the Central Criminal Court in London was a mere 12-month prison sentence and a fine of £5,000.The prosecuting authorities not only held back from trying to bring prosecutions, but there also seemed to be a deliberate policy on the part of the Department of Health not to investigate abuses and contraventions of the 1967 Act.
  • During the 1970s and 1980s Bills intended to amend the Abortion Act were introduced by Mr. Norman St John Stevas, Mr Godman Irvine, Mr James White, Mr William Benyon, Mr John Corrie, Mr Nicholas Winterton, Mr Kenneth Hargreaves and perhaps most famously, in 1988, by Mr David Alton (now Lord Alton of Liverpool).
  • The [Alton] Bill was, in our opinion, fatally flawed from the outset and, probably because of this, became worse as time went by.
It's essential that the pro-life movement learns from its history - and especially from the mistakes made in the struggle to win protection for unborn children.  There's no better place to start learning than in the pages and posts of ALDU.

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