Monday, 24 March 2008

Let’s not support charities who refuse charity to the unborn

The open letter to Members of Parliament from the Association of Medical Research Charities on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is par for the course.

They say: “We of course respect and acknowledge the sensitive feelings that surround this issue. However, public understanding of the importance of the use of early stage embryos and ensuing stem cell research remains robust; there is a real acknowledgement of its potential for those who are ill. Recent surveys by MORI and HFEA in 2003 and 2007 respectively, showed that the vast majority of the British public - 70% and 79% - support the use of human embryos for medical research to find treatments for serious diseases and for fertility research.”

In other words, however concerned they are for members of the human family who qualify to benefit from their charitable aims, the AMRC’s concern is refused to the smallest, most vulnerable members of the human family of whom the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says: "The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth." (Declaration on the Rights of the Child,1959). This is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.

Why not check the AMRC’s list of charities and see if there are any there that you, or that people you know, support?

With the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill ready to sweep away any last vestige of respect for the dignity and right to life of the human embryo, isn’t it time to draw a line in the sand and to say to charities who lack all charity for the youngest human beings, human embryos, that we will not only not support them, we will spread the word and urge others not to support them too?

So I suggest that concerned readers of this post, write to your chosen charities from the AMRC’s list, challenge them on the points in the AMRC’s open letter and if they won’t budge, make it clear that you won’t support them any longer and that you will urge others to do the same. Please let me know what responses you receive. You can find helpful information for your letters here.

For background information on the Association of Medical Research Charities, check here in SPUC’s Charities Bulletin.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

“Stop exploiting embryonic human beings”: Bishop of Lancaster plea to Gordon Brown

In a passionate Easter homily, the Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue is once again fighting strongly in defence of human life in the public forum saying: “As your bishop, I want to join my voice to that of Cardinal Keith O’Brien and others, in protesting in the strongest terms against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill”. See my blog of yesterday: Courageous Scottish Cardinal speaks out

Bishop O'Donoghue tells Gordon Brown bluntly to "stop the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill". In another passage, listing the many guises of death in Britain today, he refers to
"euthanasia through the withdrawal of food and fluids" and says "here the numbers are countless".

Last week, I blogged on the calm eloquence with which the Bishop of Lancaster stood his ground before the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee – defending not only the position of the Catholic church, but also defending human life, parental rights, and the rights of the family.

Last night, Bishop O’Donoghue preached at the Easter vigil Mass with passionate eloquence. Please write to the media supporting what he says and write to your Member of Parliament to oppose the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Full a full briefing on the Bill, click here.

Finally: Write to Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue to thank him for his clarity, and for the moral authority of his Easter message – to the Catholic faithful, to the general public, and to the British government. Write to him at

Here’s an extract from his homily which I urge you to read in full:

"We must hold on to the hope of these words: Jesus conquered death! We need to hold onto this truth today because death takes on so many guises; through legalised abortion – that kills nearly 200,000 children a year, through experimentation on the unborn, that has resulted in the deaths of 2.2 million, and euthanasia through the withdrawal of food and fluids, here the numbers are countless.

"Jesus has conquered death, but the powers of death and evil still strive to overcome the light of love and life. The tragedy is that the authority and power of Government seem to be behind the greatest threat to the dignity and rights of human life.

"As your bishop, I want to join my voice to that of Cardinal Keith O’Brien and others, in protesting in the strongest terms against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. If this bill becomes the law of the land, it will allow the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos for medical experimentation.

"Supporters of this so called ‘medical’ experimentation, justify it by offering the hope that at some unknown date in the future the dissection and destruction of unborn human life will lead to cures for truly terrible diseases, such as cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and M.S.

"All right thinking people will agree that we must seek to discover cures for diseases that cause so much human suffering. But compassion cannot result in us exploiting and destroying the life of unborn human beings.

"Many in government, the media and research are so strident in promoting research on embryonic humans that they forget to mention that the greatest strides in discovering cures derive from adult stem cell research - not the defenceless unborn.

"We need to ask who are these vested interests in the promotion of experimentation on embryonic humans and the creation of animal-human hybrids. I read about them but I’ve yet to find them in person.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants Britain to be the world's number one centre for genetic and stem cell research. He sees it as building up the hi-tech sector of British industry and contributing to economic growth.

"It is good to develop British industry and foster economic growth, but not through exploiting and destroying embryonic human persons.

"A society that seeks medical cures and economic development at the cost of human rights, human dignity and human life is ‘monstrous’. It is not the defenceless, human-animal embryo, that is ‘monstrous’; it is we ourselves who have become ‘monsters’ for allowing the exploitation of the unborn for our economic and medical gain.

"On this holy night when we celebrate life conquering death, I want to make two appeals as your Bishop:

"First, to the Prime Minister and his ministers. Please stop the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Stop exploiting embryonic human beings, and support adult stem cell research instead…

"…Second, I call on the Catholic community - clergy and laity - to speak with one voice and insist that parliament: protects and cherishes human life. Pray, Protest, and Petition your Member of Parliament to stop this monstrous medical experimentation on human beings.

"Never give up hope, nor allow it to be dimmed, because the light of Christ shines out in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome Him."

The bishop also released a robust press release in advance of his homily which you can read here. His postal address is in the press release.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Courageous Scottish Cardinal speaks out

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, is courageously speaking out against the Government's Human Fertilisation and Embrology Bill.

In his Easter Sunday homily tomorrow, the Cardinal is saying:
"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...This bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life. "
He was already under attack last night in the BBC studios for daring to tell the unvarnished truth.

It would be an excellent idea to send messages to the media and to Members of Parliament to explain why the Cardinal is right.

Look here for a detailed briefing when writing to the media and to MPs.

Also, drop a line to the Cardinal. Write to him at:
See also my post on Bishop Tartaglia, the bishop of Paisley in Scotland, on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Russian Orthodox leader condemns human rights trends

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kallingrad, a Russian orthodox leader, has condemned “dangerous trends” in human rights and has called for worldwide inter-religious dialogue on human rights – a concept brought into Europe by Christianity.

In a major address to the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, Metropolitan Krill has condemned the monopoly on human rights of a limited number of representatives of the human species.

“…These human rights are just defending the right to choose but nothing is said about humans’ responsibilities and as a result the freedom of the individual from evil is left undefended…”, he said.

Metropolitan Krill announced that the Russian Orthodox Church was calling for worldwide inter-Christian and inter-faith dialogue in human rights and the representation of religious views on human rights at the highest councils of the United Nations.

Here are some extracts from his speech:

“The attraction [of human rights] is based on a very simple and easily accessible idea – namely, that we should be concerned about the happiness of each individual. This idea in European culture is something that was brought by Christianity which has always proclaimed access to salvation for every person irrespective of that person’s national or social origins and the unique nature and value of each individual in the Divine conception of the world has always been stressed. Christians cannot simply remain on the sidelines when it comes to the fate of this important factor even when it’s expressed in secular language…

“...Now, many Orthodox Christians, when it comes to the development and implementation of human rights today, note that there are trends which are arising now which are dangerous when it comes to the defence of these high ideals. The development of institutes of human rights is something that has become the monopoly of a limited number of representatives of the human species. International organizations frequently, when they deal with matters of human rights, draw their conclusions on the basis of the opinions of a limited group of experts or civil servants or audible, though well-organized, minorities.

“Many States are also under the influence of these forces and they are losing the ability to translate the authentic values sought by their peoples. Something which is typical is that the most widespread and most widely used concept of human rights – that is, human dignity – is something which is not broadly or clearly understood…This concept provides the key to how we understand the individual, the person that is, and therefore human rights...

“...For Orthodox Christians something which is obvious is that human dignity cannot be conceived of without a religious and spiritual and moral dimension. At the same time in order to ensure the acceptability of the concept of human rights for people of different views, very often the distance between human rights and religion is stressed. As a result religious views have become a private matter and are not seen as a source of modern law, including human rights, and this is happening despite the fact that according to widespread information some 80% of the inhabitants of the planet are religious. What is in fact happening is that there are requirements that religious views should be subject to legal norms which are based on non-religious ideas and this leads to a dominance of an agnostic or even a materialistic approach to life which causes anxiety amongst believers…

“...In addition, the woman’s right to abortion neglects the right of the embryo. And no reference is made to ethics when scientific experiments are carried out on human embryos. And it’s even more astonishing to hear that human rights should now include the right to euthanasia because human rights are based on the most fundamental right of all, that is the right to life and yet soon it might turn out that human rights are favouring death rather than life...

“...On the other hand there are serious questions when it comes to the enjoyment of human rights. One of the problems in this area is the interpretation of the idea of freedom…These human rights are just defending the right to choose but nothing is said about humans’ responsibilities and as a result the freedom of the individual from evil is left undefended.

“Before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last year His Holiness Alexis II. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia said:

'Morality is freedom in action, that is, freedom which has already been enjoyed
as a result of a responsible choice and which restricts itself in the interests
of the good and benefit of the individual and also society'
"I’d like to recall that UN standards on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, is based, suggests the restriction of the freedom to choose in order to satisfy the fair requirements of morality. Unfortunately the European Union’s Charter of Rights does not include such a restrictive parameter...

"…In our view human rights should not contradict moral norms…

"...A non-conflictual way out of the situation which has come about could be found in conducting an intensive dialogue. The Russian Orthodox Church is involved in a process today of developing a comprehensive approach to human rights. It is planned that the document being developed in this regard…will be adopted by the Council of bishops. On the basis of an inter-Christian and inter-religion dialogue we know that other Christian confessions and world religions have approaches to human rights and it would be appropriate to take into account these views within the context of the Human Rights Council and, all together, within the context of the United Nations..."

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

help stop Europe-wide abortion campaign

The pro-abortion lobby has launched a major new campaign against the unborn throughout Europe. The Council of Europe is due to consider a radical new report calling for every European country to remove all restrictions to abortion. The Council of Europe (which is distinct from the European Union) has a Parliamentary Assembly consisting of representatives who already sit in the legislatures of the Council's 47 member-states. Although the Parliamentary Assembly cannot pass laws, it does pass resolutions which may have significant influence on law, in particular human rights law. The report, by the Assembly's Equal Opportunities committee, calls upon the Council's member-states to:

– decriminalise abortion, if they have not already done so;

– guarantee unrestricted access to abortion;

make sex education of young people compulsory. (Most "sex education" is infected with an anti-life mentality, and compulsory sex education would undermine the role and rights of parents).

To back up its recommendations, the report makes some of the usual false pro-abortion claims - huge numbers of illegal abortions, an unmet need for more birth control to reduce abortion rates, discrimination against women, etc.

The report
will undoubtedly be used as leverage towards the creation of a right to abortion on demand in international law, which has always been the most important and ultimate goal of the worldwide pro-abortion lobby.

Please contact the representatives of your country in the Assembly immediately, urging them to reject the report when it is debated by the Assembly's plenary session, 14 - 18 April. Contact details for Assembly members can be found here.
Please remember to email any replies you receive to Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary

Click here for SPUC briefing: Abortion law and the Council of Europe
Click here for Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) response to the report
Click here for SPUC's Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe campaign page

Monday, 17 March 2008

The danger of abortion amendments

In today’s Daily Mail, David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, who says that he will vote to lower one of the upper time limits for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, also says he will vote for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill as a whole and to retain abortion up to birth of disabled babies.

Most MPs will only consider a change in the 24-week line if abortion up to birth continues for disabled babies; and we can expect further conditions to be demanded before they allow restrictions on late-term social abortions.

These conditions could include removing restrictions to abortion on demand in early pregnancy, allowing nurses to perform certain types of abortion and extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

That’s why SPUC considers it dangerous to introduce upper limit or any abortion amendments in the current Parliament.

Hippocratic Oath posters and leaflets for pro-life doctors

Reading The Times this morning “Go public if you have any ethical qualms, doctors ordered by GMC” prompts the following observation: A peaceful resistance movement against abortion, euthanasia by neglect, in vitro fertilisation and embryo experimentation is an appropriate way forward for those who respect the inviolable right to life of the human person from conception till natural death in Britain’s increasingly anti-life culture.

The Times reports tells us: “Doctors must display posters or give out information leaflets detailing any ethical objections they hold on abortion or other contentious medical issues under new guidelines published today by the medical regulator… They must also set aside their own beliefs where a patient wishes it, or directly refer the patient to another doctor who does not hold the same objections.”

This is what the great pro-life leader, respected by people of all faiths and none, Pope John Paul II, said on the subject: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws: instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection” (Evangelium Vitae, 73, emphasis as in the original).

SPUC is offering doctors posters and leaflets promoting awareness of the Hippocratic Oath which states: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”

Tibet and genocide

The world needs to know that Communist China imposes population control upon Tibetans. The Dalai Lama said yesterday that “cultural genocide” is taking place in Tibet. And on Wednesday, it was reported that 36 Tibetan women (pictured) protested at the Chinese embassy in the Indian capital, New Delhi, demanding that the one-child policy in Tibet be stopped.

SPUC has for many years helped to voice the opposition of Tibetans to coercive birth control in Tibet, and the complicity of the UK government in its imposition:

“What is the UK doing helping to fund birth control policies in Tibet, an occupied country? With Tibetans a rapidly shrinking minority in their own land, rigid birth control - especially in conjunction with China's inhumane policies of enforced sterilisation and abortion - amounts to genocide. How is it possible that the UK can support a system where Han Chinese in Tibet are allowed more children than Tibetans? It's time the UK government behaved ethically.” (Tibet Vigil press release, 24 August 2000, quoted by SPUC 16 November 2005)

The UK government gives millions of pounds every year to UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) and IPPF (the International Planned Parenthood Federation), who in turn help the Chinese Communist regime to manage its population control programme, the main feature of which is a one-child-per-woman policy, brutally implemented by both the threat and the practice of forced abortion.

The BBC has been airing a programme recently entitled “A year in Tibet”. The Independent Tibet Network has launched a petition which, among other things, accuses the programme’s producers of bias for claiming that the one-child policy has never been applied to ethnic Tibetans. I would add that the BBC’s reported claim would not be the first time that an attempt has been made to present a false picture about population issues in Tibet or in China-proper. (N.b. The Independent Tibet Network is strictly concerned with human rights and supporting independence for the Tibetan people. They hold no position on the issue of abortion per se, and do not endorse or oppose either side of that debate. They are concerned, however, with coercive birth control as a major human rights violation against women in Tibet, East Turkestan and China.)

Thursday, 13 March 2008

The moral maze created by IVF

The increasing ethical confusion which has arisen from the invention of IVF was highlighted last night's edition of The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4. The subject was whether or not the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill should allow deaf parents specifically to select for implantation those embryos which have been diagnosed as likely to be deaf. One of the panel, Melanie Phillips, the social commentator, asked one of the witnesses, Julian Savulescu, an Oxford professor:

"You said earlier that we all have disabilities; so in your perfect universe or pursuit of perfection, where is this going to end?"

Prof. Savulescu's answer proves - if proof were needed - that eugenics and a eugenic society is the goal of embryo research:

"Well, it will actually end by transferring power from nature to families and couples to make decisions about the kinds of children they wish to bring into the world."

The programme's presenter, Michael Buerk - who had introduced the programme by blithely informing the audience that IVF is "a wonderful medical technique that has given hope to thousands of otherwise childless couples" - asked Ms Phillips:

“[I]f there are to be guidelines and it is not to be just a matter for parental choice or leaving it on a random level, where would the line be drawn? Would the line be drawn on treatable things or be drawn on things that are life threatening or drawn on some notion of pain and hardship?”

Ms Phillips got to the core of the issue in her answer:

“Well, I think we are up a gum tree. I mean, personally, I would not have started from here, I would not have gone down the IVF road.”

I have blogged previously on the intrinsic wrongnesss of IVF.

On the specific question of deaf parents selecting deaf embryos, Alison Davis, national co-ordinator of No Less Human. a group within SPUC, provided the correct ethical position as long ago as 2000:

"The idea of deliberately producing disabled babies is simply an extension of the current belief that there is a 'right to choose' the kind of baby whom an individual will accept or reject. Of course, in most cases this means that disabled children are thrown away or killed by abortion, but the principle is equally unjust and unethical in the case of rejecting non-disabled babies.

"The truth is that every human being, disabled or not, has infinite value and should be welcomed into the world whatever his or her abilities. 'Manufacturing' human beings, and then rejecting those who do not measure up to our ideas of what is desirable, is a form of eugenics which should be rejected by all who recognise and respect the value of human beings.

"Designing children and throwing away those we choose to reject for whatever reason is a form of fatal discrimination, which should not be tolerated in any civilised society."

The only ethical action, therefore, that MPs can take regarding the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is to vote against it when it comes before the House of Commons, which could be soon after Easter. Please contact to your MP today – visit for guidance.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Bishop stands up under fire

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster came under fire at a meeting of the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.

Fiona McTaggart MP challenged the bishop on the fact that his recent guidance to Catholic schools (Fit for Mission? – Schools) indicated that they should not support fund-raising appeals with an anti-life ethos. He pointed out that it was not feasible to expect Catholics to support organisations – despite the good work they might do – if their leadership adopted policies contrary to basic Christian principles. The bishop emphasised that the values upheld by Catholic schools in his diocese were values shared by those of other faiths, such as Moslems, at Catholic schools.

The Bishop was also criticised for saying in the document that schools in his diocese should see it as their prime duty to teach the Catholic faith and to evangelise. Committee members said they thought this meant non-Catholic pupils were to be proselytised. The Bishop denied this – pointing to the distinction between genuine evangelisation – proclaiming the truth to others – and proselytisation, which was characterised as coercive.

Barry Sheerman MP, the Committee Chairman, asked if Church leaders were not worried that it seemed that church schools had become adept at keeping out poor and needy children.

The Bishop said that Catholic schools [within the state ‘comprehensive school’ system] should not be selective, and said he would intervene if schools were found to have been selecting children on the basis of their social class. He maintained, however that admission quotas for different class or religious groups should not be imposed on schools.

On the question of interfaith schools, the committee chairman asked whether there had been a change in policy under Pope Benedict XVI (or, as Barry Sheerman impolitely put it: under the “present occupant of the Vatican”!) Bishop O’Donoghue said the policy had not changed as far as he was aware – not in his diocese.

If you want to write to congratulate Bishop O’Donoghue for his brave defence of values, particularly pro-life values, during his questioning in Parliament today, write to him at: Bishop’s Apartment, Cathedral House, Balmoral Road, Lancaster, LA1 3BT.

pray for bishop's witness to life

Spare a thought this morning for Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, the bishop of Lancaster. At 10.45 a.m. he will be giving evidence in Parliament during a formal oral evidence session of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee.

Remember some of the things Bishop O’Donoghue has been teaching in his diocese in his document “Fit for Mission? Schools”:

“…Schools and colleges have to cope with increasing government ‘social engineering’ legislation, seeking to impose secular values on our curriculum and ethos…

“…Parents, schools and collegesmust reject secularized and anti-life sex education, which puts God at the margin of life and regards the birth of a child as a threat (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 137)

“Sterilization, contraception, abortion, and IVF should only be discussed during adolescence and only in conformity with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the moral, spiritual, and health values of methods for the natural regulation of fertility, such as Natural Family Planning, must be emphasized (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 137).

“Parents must insist on continence outside marriage and fidelity in marriage as the only true and secure education for the prevention of AIDS. Parents, schools, and colleges must also reject the promotion of so-called “safe sex” or “safer sex”, a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS. (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 139)…”

Of course, this is exactly what very many citizens, Catholic or not, are crying out to hear from their religious leaders – and thank God Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue has been saying it. We live in a country in which the Government’s policy, enacted in schools, including Catholic schools, is to provide abortion and abortifacient birth control to children without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Bishop O’Donoghue is calling for resistance to this policy in accordance with the teaching of Pope John Paul II who wrote: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection”. (Emphasis as in “Evangelium Vitae”, 73)

However, Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield and chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, dismisses citizens’ rights to oppose anti-life sex education as fundamentalism.

Simon Caldwell writes in today’s Daily Mail:

“The bishop has been criticised by Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the schools select committee. ‘A lot of taxpayers' money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here," said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield. A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be to call representatives in front of the committee to find out what is going on. It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.’”

As I make this post, all we can do is pray for the bishop. Pray that Barry Sheerman and his committee fail to convict him in the court of public opinion for standing up for the natural, inalienable, rights of citizens to defend the sanctity of life and the right to protect and promote the dignity of married love.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

UN report could be used to make abortion a right

A United Nations official is today presenting a report in Geneva which, if adopted, will be used by international pro-abortion bodies, including UN bodies, to seek to establish a global right to abortion.

Mr Paul Hunt's document says that states have a legal obligation to provide health services, and it's hard to take exception to that. However, he includes in this provision: "sexual and reproductive health services including information, family planning, prenatal and post-natal services, and emergency obstetric care."

"Sexual and reproductive health services" is a term used by UN bodies such as the UNFPA and CEDAW to promote legal access to abortion on demand – and to put pressure on developing countries worldwide to legalise abortion.

What's needed is a firm declaration by the international community that none of this report is to be taken to imply a right to abortion. Better still, nations should re-assert what the Convention on the Rights of the Child says about how children need special protection "before as well as after birth".

Please contact your country's foreign ministry to ask them to ensure that your nation opposes any interpretation of the Hunt report as supporting abortion. In the UK, one can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at King Charles St, London, SW1A 2AH. Their website has a feedback form here.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Worldwide prayer alert to protect Northern Ireland

I am in Belfast today at a meeting of the SPUC Northern Ireland executive committee.

The number one item on our agenda is the British Government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

There is a terrible danger of Parliament imposing the British Abortion Act on Northern Ireland - which is so overwhelmingly opposed by the politicians and public alike here.

In addition to their political campaign, SPUC Northern Ireland wants to build on any existing prayer campaigns against the government bill and, in particular, against the pro-abortion lobby's agenda for this Bill.

If any readers know of existing prayer campaigns against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, either locally or on a national level, and either in Britain or in Ireland or in any other part of the world, please contact me at

Please would other bloggers, reading this post, pass on the message.

By the way, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is a danger to the world. Just as the British Abortion Act has been copied throughout the world and, therefore, British politicians responsible for the killing of unborn children worldwide; just as the Human Fertilisation and Embrology Act 1990 and the permission it gave for IVF and human embryo experimentation has been copied around the world; so will the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the permission it gives for the creation of human-animal hybrids be copied around the world - if it is enacted by the British Parliament in the coming months.

So this is a worldwide prayer alert.

Giving counselling or taking lives?

Marie Stopes, the abortion provider, has launched a so-called telephone counselling service for women considering an abortion. SPUC's Anthony Ozimic has commented: "Marie Stopes has a financial interest in abortion - they run abortion clinics. What incentive is there for abortion providers like Marie Stopes to give women the necessary information about abortion, such as the full facts about the development of their baby and the physical and psychological risks of abortion to themselves? Women should be extremely wary of speaking to counsellors who are employed by an agency that exists to kill unborn children. Marie Stopes, the birth control pioneer, was driven by the desire to ensure that women she saw as 'unfit' should have fewer children. Her ideas live on in the agency that names itself after her and they are certainly not fit to give advice to today's expectant mothers."

Friday, 7 March 2008

MP's muddled thinking on abortion

In an article calling for a lower upper limit for abortion, Mrs Nadine Dorries MP speaks movingly about the killings of babies at 19, 24 and 28 weeks. However, pro-lifers must be wary of her proposal for reasons I explain, in a different context, in a letter published in the Catholic Herald this weekend. (Since I cannot link to the letters’ pages of the Herald, I reprint it below.)

The dangers of Nadine Dorries’s proposal are clearly illustrated in her own position on abortion. She endorses a woman’s right to choose abortion. She introduced a 10-minute rule bill in 2006 which included a provision to fast-track abortion once the final consent had been given. This provision, if the Bill had succeeded, could have led to even more resources being spent on killing the unborn.

Her revulsion at late abortion is wholly appropriate, but her tactics in trying to curb it are wrong, dangerous and likely to make matters worse, not better.

Her inconsistent stance politically is perhaps a reflection of her muddled thinking on abortion, best expressed by Ms Dorries herself in today’s Daily Mail: “What got me was the total lack of regard for human life. I have no issue with abortion at the right time. But this is murder."

My letter in this weekend’s Catholic Herald:

It’s misleading to describe SPUC’s approach to abortion law reform as “all or nothing”. (Catholic Herald, Interview, 21st December 2007)

For many years SPUC has pointed out that the Abortion Act 1967, terrible as it is, could be made significantly worse. A careful examination of the recent votes on abortion in the current Parliament shows many more MPs supporting the pro-abortion lobby than the pro-life lobby.

With the numbers stacked against us, it makes no sense at all to add to the calls of the pro-abortion lobby for Parliament to amend the abortion law.

When Parliament last voted on the upper limit for abortion (in 1990), exceptions were included which resulted in the legalisation of abortion up to birth. Leading pro-abortion politicians have since indicated that want abortion to be more widely available. Negotiating any lower limit is likely to involve a trade-off with more exceptions being allowed beyond the limit – up to birth – thus resulting in more abortions taking place.

The beginning of political influence for the pro-life movement in the UK both inside and outside Parliament must be a candidly honest assessment of our political strength. Only after such an assessment, can prudent decisions be made about how to limit the harm of Britain’s abortion legislation.

Thus, along with other pro-life groups, SPUC is working closely with leading pro-life politicians in Northern Ireland who are calling on Gordon Brown to seek to prevent a House of Commons vote extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

It is wrong to say that SPUC does not communicate with other groups.

SPUC has always acknowledged that our lobbying and educational work is not the whole of the pro-life battle. We have encouraged and supported the work of other groups especially in the field of pro-life counselling. We continue to liaise with other organisations through the London-based ‘Choose Life’ committee and in several areas, particularly Scotland, SPUC collaborates with LIFE on education work. Although the national Pro-life Umbrella Committee is not meeting at present, we support its revival.

SPUC fights for the right to life of all unborn children, and works on the basis of a realistic political strategy. It is not an “all or nothing” approach. It’s one which takes into account the real danger of making things worse, as well as the urgent need to devise strategies that will enable us to make progress despite the hostile political climate.

Yours sincerely,

John Smeaton

SPUC national director

Thursday, 6 March 2008

retirement of Rev Dr Ian Paisley

There have been many tributes paid and comments made on the occasion of the announcement of Dr Ian Paisley's retirement as DUP leader and Northern Ireland first minister. Here are my observations:

  • In February 1984 he co-sponsored a motion (along with Rev Ivan Foster) in the Northern Ireland Assembly rejecting the extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. The motion was approved by 20 votes to 1.
  • In autumn 1992 he led a rally in Belfast to oppose the opening of a Brook Advisory Centre in the city. Brook refers for abortions and provides girls under the age of consent with abortifacient birth control drugs and devices.
  • On 20 June 2000 he spoke in the New Northern Ireland Assembly in favour of a motion reiterating the rejection of the Abortion Act saying: "As a public representative, I shall speak for the child today, the child who feels, who can recognise its mother's voice and know pain, who is a member of the human family and who has been given the unique gift of human life. We cannot get away from that."
  • As a member of the House of Commons and an MEP, Dr Paisley has consistently supported the pro-life cause, working with other elected representatives regardless of religious or political differences.
  • He is expected to lead his party's opposition to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill.

You can read the rest of Dr Paisley's speech quoted above in this transcript of a Northern Ireland Assembly debate. Scroll down a few screens till you reach it.

SPUC's briefing on the
Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill is here as a PDF.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Chinese regime: no end to one child policy

China has denied reports circulated last week in the Western media (Reuters and the Guardian, among others) that China is considering scrapping the one-child policy, according to a domestic newspaper. Beijing News has reported that "[n]ews of abandoning the one-child policy is inconsistent with the facts", quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission describing the reports as “incorrect”. Beijing News, and the Yangcheng Evening News, another state-run newspaper, said that "China will continue to pursue even better its population and family planning policy." [Reuters, 2 March] SPUC warned last week that Western media outlets had misinterpreted misleading comments by Zhao Baige, China's minister in charge of the policy. [SPUC, 28 February] Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, comments: "The Chinese Communist regime has played its old trick of soft-talking to the Western media, whilst tough-talking to its oppressed citizens, and yet again the Western media fell for it. Journalists should question the words of a regime that has ordered the killing of millions of unborn children and the torture of their mothers."

Chimp or person?

Mexico's former attorney general and ex-chairman of that country's human rights commission has reportedly said that early unborn children are chimpanzees. Dr Jorge Carpizo McGregor cited scientific discovery as a reason for his opinion. Dr Carpizo's apparent view reminds me of something said by the late Professor Jérôme Lejeune (pictured), the world-renowned geneticist who discovered the cause of Down's syndrome. In testimony to the US senate's judiciary subcommittee, he said: "[I]f at the beginning, just after conception, days before implantation, a single cell was removed from the little berry-looking individual, we could cultivate that cell and examine its chromosomes. If a student, looking at it under the microscope, could not recognize the number, the shape and the banding pattern of these chromosomes, if he was not able to tell safely whether it comes from a chimpanzee being or from a human being, he would fail in his examination." [California Prolife, 2000]

Monday, 3 March 2008

The child’s life which does not haunt Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown spoke movingly the other day about child poverty. Watch him here as he says: “When we allow just one life to be degraded or derailed by early poverty it represents a cost that can never be fully counted. What difference could that child have made? What song will not be written? What flourishing business will not be founded? What classroom will miss out on a teacher who could awaken aspiration? Because just one child’s life wasted haunts us with the thought of what might have been. So this government must end child poverty in this generation.”

You may like to write to him to tell him that exactly the same sentiments could be applied to the unborn and to abortion.

Check here for Gordon Brown’s voting record on abortion. In 1988 and 1990, he voted with the pro-abortion lobby no fewer than 16 times, including three times for abortion up to birth.