Friday, 12 April 2013

Wales donors show signs of reacting against deemed consent Bill

Potential organ donors in Wales are showing signs of reacting against the Welsh government's deemed consent bill. 

SPUC in Wales has commenting about a catastrophic collapse in numbers of organ donors in the past year, at the same time that the deemed consent bill is being promoted.

Janet Secluna Thomas, SPUC Wales's development officer, told the media today:
"The government push for organ seizure seems to be affecting the voluntary organ donation system. Figures show that only 52 donors volunteered for organ donation from April 2012 to March 2013. This is a fall from 67 in 2011-12. Thus Wales’ performance fell from the best in the UK to the worst in the UK in one year. All other nations of the UK showed a major increase in the donor rate.

The politicians in the Welsh Assembly deny any responsibility. However, oral evidence to the Health Committee*  showed that donors were reacting against the proposed bill to enforce organ seizure and to ignore the right of patients to require their express consent. The bill appears to have had a very damaging effect." * (30/01/13 Section 63)

No real consultation has taken place. The government has ignored mounting opposition, which showed about 96% against in September 2012 including standard letters, and 90% against in January 2013. Many distinguished medical experts and bioethicists are against the bill. All the churches and Islamic authorities are against it also. In September,  over 2,000 letters from individuals against the bill were sent to the health minister. Since then Assembly members have received over 12,000 letters against the bill.

The Labour Party made a political decision in 2009 to adopt presumed consent and has ignored the outstanding previous success of the voluntary organ donation system. Now the potential donors on the organ donor register are starting to withdraw their permission.

Lesley Griffiths, the minister said with reference to human rights: 'Consent could not be valid if people did not understand the system; it would be in breach of human rights.' But the minister has failed to convince a wide swathe of opinion that her proposed system can ever achieve the informed consent she admits is necessary. She has even admitted* that without other measures (such as greatly increased numbers of intensive care beds, there may be no increase in organ donors. Wales has the lowest level of such beds in Europe. * (Oral evidence, 30 Jan. section 100)

Professor Fabre, an expert on presumed consent in Spain, said that the minister's claim that Spain's success regarding organ donation was achieved with the help of presumed consent. In fact, the opposite is true. This is the lesson the Welsh government has persistently ignored.

One option being proposed is a system of 'mandated choice', where all those who have not registered a choice on organ donation are prompted and informed to register their choice. This would remove the obstacle that families do not know what their loved ones want when they are asked if they will consent to organ removal. It is hoped that Mark Drakeford, the new health minister, will take a step back from the rush to introduce legislation and consider this and any other promising options for voluntary donation.

Many people argue strongly that a great deal more could be done to improve voluntary donation. Muslims have set an excellent example by starting an initiative to tackle the lack of organs from ethnic minorities, by sending out young recipients of organs to speak of the difference it has made to their lives."
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Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Telegraph's adulation of IVF pioneer Robert Edwards is nauseating

The Telegraph newspaper published yesterday an adulatory obituary of Professor Sir Robert Edwards, the pioneer of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has sent me his reflections on extracts from the obituary, by way of the 'fisk' below:

The Telegraph:
"Professor Sir Robert Edwards, who has died aged 87, developed the in vitro fertility (IVF) treatment that led to the birth of the first “test-tube” baby, Louise Brown, in 1978, and ended the misery of millions of barren couples..."
Anthony Ozimic:
In fact, natural family planning, including the highly-successful Billings Ovulation Method, was ending the misery of barren couples using modern science before IVF. The most notable things about Edwards is that IVF has resulted in the ending of the lives of millions of embryonic children, outnumbering over twenty-fold the number of children born following IVF.
The Telegraph:
"Early attempts to fertilise eggs from ovarian tissue – using his own sperm – proved fruitless"
Anthony Ozimic:
This fact highlights the little-publicised truth that the sperm used to fertilise the eggs in IVF is almost always obtained by masturbation, assisted by the provision of pornography. Masturbation instrumentalises and thus debases the sexual faculty, which is proper to marital union, not laboratory experiments. The sexual organs are structured for depositing sperm into the vagina, not into a jar. A masturbator - even one motivated by a desire to fertilise eggs, even his wife's - is 'making love' to his hand, which is unnatural and a form of self-abuse.

Masturbation for any purpose - including providing sperm samples for medical purposes - is intrinsically unethical. Catholics in particular should note that it is forbideen by a decision of the Holy Office on 2 Aug. 1929, and by Pope Pius XII (address to delegates, 26th Congress of Urology, 8 Oct. 1953; address to 2nd World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, 19 May 1956.)

Edwards' activity highlights the violation of marital sexuality which is part of IVF. Not only was he masturbating for the sake of IVF, he was trying to conceive children both outside of wedlock and via women (using their ovarian tissue) other than his wife (Edwards was married).
The Telegraph:
"A spokesman for Roman Catholic Cardinal Heenan described what the scientists were doing as “murder” since it involved the destruction of fertilised human eggs."
Anthony Ozimic:
Of more importance is The Telegraph's euphemistic demeaning of embryonic children as "fertilised human eggs". There is no such thing as a fertilised human egg. An embryo is no more a fertilised human egg than an adult.There are human eggs and there are human beings, the latter which are called at various stages of development zygotes, blastocysts, embryos, foetuses, infants, teenagers and adults. These are scientific facts, not spiritual beliefs or philosophical theories.
The Telegraph:
"'If it was wrong, God wouldn’t have given Mr Steptoe or Dr Edwards the ability to do this work,' observed John Brown [father of Louise, the first IVF baby]."
Anthony Ozimic:
God has given human beings the ability to do great evil, through the ability to invent things capable of great evil e.g. weapons of mass destruction, extermination camps, instruments of torture etc. Edwards abused the abilities and the free will which God had given him.
The Telegraph:
"Edwards never shrunk from confronting his critics. The creation of a human embryo in the laboratory, he explained later, was “about more than infertility. I wanted to find out exactly who was in charge, whether it was God Himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory.” He had no doubt about the answer: “It was us. The Pope looked totally stupid. Now there are as many Roman Catholics coming for treatment as Protestants.”"
Anthony Ozimic:
SPUC has often claimed that IVF is not primarily about helping couples with fertility problems but is driven by a desire of some scientists to 'play God' with human life. Edwards's implied claim that the invention of IVF disproves God's dominion over life was totally stupid, not the Pope. God works through His creatures to bring about new life: this is what is meant by 'procreation'. This God-given power of human beings can be used in an ethical context (marriage) or an unethical context (IVF in the laboratory, fornication, adultery, incest, rape). The invention of IVF no more disproves God's dominion over nature than the invention of electric lighting disproves the power of the Sun.

The fact that some Catholics resort to IVF simply highlights the urgent need for increased catechesis about sexual ethics and increased promotion of the highly-successful alternatives to IVF (e.g the Billings Ovulation Method; NaProTech)
The Telegraph:
"Worldwide about one in 10 couples are infertile and, until IVF, doctors could do little to help."
Anthony Ozimic:
This is simply a lie - as I have pointed out above, natural family planning, such as Billings Ovulation Method, was helping couples with fertility problems before IVF was invented. The Telegraph's obituary doesn't give a definition of 'infertility'. Much so-called 'infertility' is in fact simply a temporary difficulty in conceiving because of a lack of knowledge about the woman's cycle. A high proportion of women who undergo IVF could have conceived instead with the help of Billings or NaProTech, which would have provided that close knowledge of their cycles.
The Telegraph:
"Edwards’s breakthrough was critical for many other important medical advances, including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for diseases, and for the derivation of the first human stem cells – all of which kept him in the thick of the medical-ethical debate."
Anthony Ozimic:
But pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and embryonic stem cell research are not "medical advances". PGD is simply a means of searching out and destroying certain human beings whom some people regard as not worthy of life. Embryonic stem cell research has been revealed as a dud - as SPUC and many other people predicted decades ago.
The Telegraph:
"Though Edwards was awarded a Lasker Prize in 2001, the failure of the Nobel committee to award him a prize for many years was regarded as little short of a scandal in the fertility community."
Anthony Ozimic:
Who or what is "the fertility community"? This again gives the entirely false impression that IVF = fertility, that all fertility practitioners are pro-IVF, and that only IVF practitioners are addressing fertility problems.
The Telegraph:
"The only dissident note was struck by Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican..."
Anthony Ozimic:
The Telegraph's obituary singles out the Catholic Church no fewer than four times as the opponents of IVF, thus casting 'the Vatican' in the role of villains and Luddites. This is very poor journalism, which one expects of The Guardian but not The Telegraph.
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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Archbishop says that Catholics who support same-sex marriage shouldn't receive Holy Communion

The Detroit Free Press newspaper reports that Allen Vigneron, the Catholic archbishop of Detroit (USA), has said Catholics who support same-sex marriage shouldn't receive Holy Communion. It also quotes the archbishop saying:
"For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury. [The Church wants to help Catholics] avoid this personal disaster."
The newspaper also reports that the archbishop told a press conference last month:
"Were we to abandon [our views opposing abortion and supporting traditional marriage], we would be like physicians who didn't tell their patients that certain forms of behavior are not really in their best interest."
I pray that all bishops and clergy will be blessed with the same admirable balance of firmness and pastoral concern as Archbishop Vigneron.

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