Saturday, 9 August 2008

Are the Chinese Olympic games the greatest triumph of the population control lobby?

I searched Google “news” using the words China, forced, and abortion. I got 245 results. Using just two words, China and abortion, I got 299 results.

The largest number of those results referred to three Christians arrested on Tiananmen Square for protesting against China’s forced abortion and one-child policy.

Googling for China Olympic Games produced 9,760,000 results.

Quite a crude piece of research to do early on Saturday morning. But it prompts the question for me: Are the Chinese Olympic Games the greatest triumph of the population control lobby?

What’s more, is the indifference of the west to what’s been described as “arguably the greatest bioethical atrocity on the globe” giving the green light to the population control lobby to move into developing countries around the world with their totalitarian schemes attacking the family and attacking the sanctity of life?

Take the Philippines, for example, and the Reproductive Health Bill which just cleared the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives. The Bill, which paves the way for legalized abortion “…proposes a heavy handed approach to dissenters, and elements of the Bill appear to be totalitarian" according to Southern Cross Bioethics Committee, SPUC’s advisers on bioethics.

I received the following message yesterday from Fenny Tatad, executive director of the Bishops-Legislators Caucus in Quezon City, the Philippines, regarding the Reproductive Health Bill. She said: “John, there is tremendous and unbelievable pressure coming from external sources to pass these bills. Could you please let me know if similar efforts are being brought down on legislatures in other parts of the developing world? And why?”

I would be very interested to receive informed comments from readers on Fenny’s question to me. I do wonder if the population control lobby is saying: “Well if we can get away with it in China where our abuse of the people is so well-documented, we can get away with it anywhere.”

Friday, 8 August 2008

Young people protest against China population policy

As the Olympic games open in Beijing, and some courageous American pro-lifers are arrested for protesting there, SPUC's youth and student division have been demonstrating against the one-child policy at the Chinese embassy in London. Their six-hour silent vigil includes one blindfolded participant kneeling. Our picture shows Francis, an Oxford University postgraduate student, Miss Maloney, a postgraduate student of bioethics at the Queen of Apostles Pontifical University, Rome, and Fiorella Nash of SPUC, event organiser (right).

Fiorella writes:
"As a mother, it is incredible to me that any government regards itself as having a right to prevent women from having children. Western nations are complicit in this policy because they fund UN agencies which work alongside Chinese population controllers.
"Many people I have spoken to about this subject, including women who would regard themselves as feminists, shrug their shoulders as if it isn't that important. I wonder if people would be so accepting of such an abuse if it were going on in England? Would people still shrug their shoulders and refuse to comment if, during my second pregnancy, my husband had been told he would be thrown out of Cambridge University if I didn't abort, or if I had been forcibly detained at Addenbrooke's hospital during an ante-natal check and woken up from the sedation to find my baby had been killed and I had been sterilised?
"Reproductive rights just aren't that important when the woman actually wants to have a baby. The hypocrisy is disgraceful."

US administration gets cold feet on abortifacient birth control

The US administration seems to be getting cold feet on defining certain types of birth control as abortifacient. A draft directive on medics' conscientious objection mentioned the provision of drugs and procedures that terminate human life "before or after implantation". Mr Mike Leavitt, health secretary, now says that what people saw was an early draft that he'd not yet looked at. This draft: "contained words that lead some to conclude my intent is to deal with the subject of contraceptives, somehow defining them as abortion. Not true." He goes on to say that the proposed measure – which would withdraw funding from institutions which would not comply – is mainly about conscientious objection.

Well, yes. It is. No-one disputes that. Where there may be a misunderstanding is on what contraception is. As many of my readers will know, some types of birth control may be both contraceptive and abortifacient. Hormonal pills and intrauterine devices are like that. And the draft directive goes out of its way to mention human life from conception – it doesn't just talk about surgical abortion.

Mr Leavitt seems to have come under pressure from the population control lobby after the text was allegedly leaked. However, he shouldn't be tempted to back down. Pro-life medics will have conscientious problems with providing any drug, device or procedure that terminates human life at any stage.

Mr Leavitt is quoted as saying: "The Bush Administration has consistently supported the unborn." He's right; that government has done some good things at home and abroad. Now, in its last months, it can seal its legacy by ensuring that American medics can, without fear of retribution, refuse to take part in any action, direct or indirect, that threatens unborn children, regardless of their developmental stage.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Dangerous Philippines bill makes progress

On Monday I blogged on the reproductive health bill in the Philippines. This measure could pave the way for legal abortion and promote contraception, sex education and reproductive technology. It also contains coercive elements. Sadly, it was yesterday passed by the parliament's appropriations committee, which is actually chaired by one of the bill's sponsors.

Mrs Fenny Tatad, executive director of the Bishops-Legislators Caucus in Quezon City, kindly tells me that the next stage is the rules committee. The bill would then be scheduled for plenary discussion by the House of Representatives. That would be the major battle. Before it gets to that stage, though, the senate would need to pass its own version of the bill. That house has a great deal of other business to consider.

Both houses, Mrs Tatad tells me, are also considering a Magna Carta for Women. While this doesn't mention reproductive health (a phrase used to cloak the promotion of abortion and other unethical practices), it does talk about "comprehensive health care services" which could cause problems. As a result, Mrs Tatad's caucus are keeping a close eye on the measure.

Proposal to widen a patient’s “best interests…beyond the purely medical”

Alarm bells began ringing for me earlier this week when The Times reported that Chris Rudge, the new National Clinical Director for Transplantation, favours defining a patient’s “best interests” more widely to encompass aspects “beyond the purely medical” with a view to honouring a patient’s wish that his or her organs can be used to help others.

The Times says: “He believes that broadening the definition would … enable a critical care doctor to keep a patient alive for an hour or two longer, even when hope of recovery was gone, to enable organs to be collected”

And Mr Rudge observes: “We may need to seek legal advice. The Mental Capacity Act doesn’t define the phrase clearly.” Exactly, Mr Rudge. And that’s when the alarm bells got pretty deafening.

As SPUC’s adviser on bioethics, Dr Greg Pike, put it to me: “I think one of the concerns about too widely construing best interests is that there is currently a strong drive to implement living wills in practice and in legislation. One of the key problems with living wills is their application in circumstances where it would obviously be contrary to best medical practice enacted in the best interests of the patient. It is no surprise that the pro-euthanasia people are very interested in living wills because they see an opportunity to use the denial of treatment - that would be encouraged as the content of a living will - as a form of soft euthanasia.”

Kimberley Pfeiffer, a research officer at Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, offers another perspective on Chris Rudge’s comments: “This article suggests changes should be made to the life support laws so that organ donors’ wish to donate their organs can be granted – because removing organs for transplant may be in a donor’s ‘best interests’.

“The central issue here is - is it in the best interests of an organ donor to have their organs donated when they die? Organ donation is a wonderful gift of life to another, but a gift must be freely given (donated) and is only ‘useful’ if a matched transplant recipient is willing and able to receive the donation.

“It is bizarre to suggest that the giving of organs will benefit the giver so much that it is essential - in their best interest - when they are dead. The needy recipient of an organ is the only one who benefits from this type of donation. If the donor were living, they too may benefit because they might find joy in the service they have done for the other person (gift giving) but this is a secondary good and is a side effect of the primary good (the recipient’s gift). The family of a dead organ donor may find joy in the gift their deceased loved one gave to an organ transplant recipient, but this too is secondary to the primary recipient’s benefit. This backward concept of ‘gift-giving’ seems to be a self-interested perspective of altruism, not the Judaeo-Christian altruism which holds a concern for others for the sake of themselves.

“Chris Rudge suggests that donors' best interests should be ‘drawn more widely, to include honouring a wish that his or her organs should be used to help others’. Is honouring a dead or dying person’s wishes the same as serving the donor’s best interests? Practically speaking, these changes could lead to a donor being held on life-support for an indefinite period of time until organ transplantation can be arranged. But what can be said about this state of limbo between life and death? Are they physically dead if brain death has been declared – yet have their living organs preserved?

“It should be the dying donor’s best interest to be honoured and respected in life and death because of their inherent human dignity. And if this is contradicted by manipulation or exploitation of the dead person’s body in order to harvest organs, then it is not in the best interest of the donor to have their organs donated. It is worrying that this ‘best interest’ language could be used to trade-off respect for the dead and harbour living ‘dead’ cadavers in order to increase organ donation transactions.”

Bernard Farrell-Roberts of the Maryvale Institute, whose serious concerns on presumed consent for organ donation I blogged on last week, also told me he’s worried: “Alarm bells rang when I read ‘I would like to see a recognition that a patient’s best interests can encompass aspects beyond the purely medical’ Another slippery slope I fear. I … understand what Chris Rudge is trying to achieve, but I believe a change such as this would be extremely dangerous. A move away from ‘purely medical’ would open a real can of worms.

“Living wills, euthanasia (Holland springs to mind here as having something similar), etc. would all be made much easier to introduce. Abortions too up to full term, and even infant killings could be justified under such a policy. Who would judge the global best interest of a patient? A doctor, a panel ... ? And would anything written or expressed then become legally the patient's best interest, or even legally binding, even though in reality it isn't? At a time when the state wishes to take control over our bodies [see my earlier post] and has made consistent progress in this direction for years now, it would be so easy for them to further their aims if this were to become the norm. I feel that Chris Rudge is thinking one-dimensionally at present, and doesn't seem to have considered the broader picture yet.”

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

BPAS is first winner of John Smeaton, SPUC director blog's George Orwell Prize

It was George Orwell who said: “Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” I cannot help feeling that this statement accurately describes the tactics used by the abortion lobby to promote their ideology among the general public. Over the forthcoming weeks, I will be awarding regular George Orwell Prizes to abortion promoters and/or providers who make the most misleading, euphemistic or blatantly dishonest statements.

There is no better place to begin than with the ugly reality of the abortion procedure itself. For a movement that claims to believe in a woman’s right to choose, the abortion lobby shows a distinct unwillingness to allow women to make an informed choice about abortion. I looked at materials put out by the Brook Advisory Service, BPAS, Marie Stopes, FPA and IPAS to see whether any of them had the courage and honesty to describe what actually happens during an abortion.

There are certain misleading words that are common to virtually all abortion providers when describing abortion, such as speaking of "the pregnancy" instead of unborn child, foetus, baby or embryo. For example, Marie Stopes claims that “gentle suction is used to remove the pregnancy from the uterus” when describing surgical abortion, FPA talks about “taking pills to expel the pregnancy” and BPAS, when describing a late term dilation and evacuation, states: “Forceps are used to remove the pregnancy.”

It takes very little knowledge of obstetrics and gynaecology to notice that the word "pregnancy" refers to (in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary) "the condition or period of being pregnant", not the unborn child whose life is ended in the womb by abortion. However, abortion providers do not seem to feel that women have a right to know this.

The other way abortion providers get around the inconvenient truth of abortion is to describe the unborn child as a mere "product", i.e. abortion removes "the products of conception" or to speak of the unborn child as though he or she were simply filling up space in the womb that it has no business to occupy. So we have BPAS describing manual vacuum aspiration in the following terms: “The uterus is emptied using a gentle manual or electric vacuum.” Emptied of what?

The runner-up for the George Orwell Prize this week is IPAS, the international abortion promoter, which uses virtually every euphemism possible in its literature; ‘uterine-evacuation procedures’ , ‘contents of the uterus', ‘products of conception’ etc. However, the overall winner is BPAS, which promises women who undergo a late abortion: “All tissue from abortion procedures is disposed of in a sensitive way. However, if you have specific wishes about the disposal of your fetal tissue, please discuss this with a member of staff before the procedure.”

When describing medical abortion between nine and 23 weeks, BPAS informs women: “The doctor will put a needle into the uterus and inject medicine to stop the fetal heart.” [ibid.] Medicine does not deliberately stop a beating heart. Maybe the word they were looking for is poison.

“Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Monday, 4 August 2008

Philippines reproductive health bill has totalitarian elements

A bill before the Philippines parliament, due to be discussed tomorrow by the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives, could pave the way for legal abortion, as well as promoting contraception, sex education and reproductive technology. Southern Cross Bioethics Institute of South Australia (logo shown here) have written a commentary on the bill and I've used it for this blog. In it they say: "The Bill proposes a heavy handed approach to dissenters, and elements of the Bill appear to be totalitarian".

Much of the bill covers areas, such as the elimination of violence against women, which are subject to existing laws. Although the Philippines presently has pro-life laws, this proposed bill, with its "reproductive rights" language, could lead to conflict. Such conflict might lead to case law in this area.

The bill would permit abortifacient birth control even though the constitution says that the state will protect people from conception. It defines birth control drugs and devices as medicines, yet they do not treat illnesses and can actually terminate young lives.

The proposed measure severely restricts conscientious objection to its provisions and, where it does allow such objection, requires practitioners immediately to refer the enquirer to medics who will provide the unethical service. For some health workers, this will itself go against their consciences.

It also recommends two-child families and, while it doesn't mention coercion, couples could come under subtle pressure. The bill could be amended to include coercion. Couples wanting to marry would need a certificate showing they had been instructed in family planning. The bill would punish people who are deemed to have misrepresented what it contains, a significant threat to free speech and a potential weapon against pro-lifers.

Overall, this proposed measure is an intrusion by the state on couples' rights to have families in accordance with their beliefs and it advances the international sexual health agenda which is part of the campaign for widespread birth control and abortion.

[Commentary on the Philippines Reproductive Health Bill, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, August 2008]

Fertilisation is ethical, scientific and legal starting point of the life of a human being

There’s a helpful article by Dr David Albert Jones in the Observer on human embryo research. It puts into clear perspective the Catholic church’s teaching on the inviolability and dignity of human life from the moment of its conception (which is also SPUC's position).

He points out the unchanging nature of the church’s teaching – refuting Lisa Jardine’s claim (the new chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) that protection of the embryo from the beginning was an invention of 21st century Catholicism. He also shows how the church’s position is rooted in science and is even reflected in the very UK legislation which permits human embryo experimentation: “According to UK law brought in to allow experimentation on human embryos, "references to an embryo include an egg in the process of fertilisation". This starting point is maintained in the bill currently going through parliament…”

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The hypocrisy of Tony Blair

Tony Blair is in China tomorrow (Monday, 4th August) as he puts it on MySpace, “answering questions from MySpace users about the global challenges we face, in particular related to our campaign to show how people of faith can help the world achieve its Millennium Development Goals. How we can join together as global citizens both of faith, and of none, to tackle the great social ills that we face today and provide the opportunity for young people to make a real difference?”

As Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s political secretary put it to me, what about the great social ill of abortion?

Since giving up the premiership (and being received into the Catholic Church) Tony Blair has repeatedly refused to repudiate the strongly pro-abortion, pro-human embryo research and pro-euthanasia by neglect policies he and his government pursued.

Under Tony Blair’s government, the UK was the world’s fourth highest donor country to the UNFPA, giving just under $US38 million in 2006. The UNFPA’s well-documented involvement in China’s one-child policy has been described as “arguably the greatest bioethical atrocity on the globe”. To their credit, earlier this month, President Bush's government withheld some $40 million from UNFPA, making a total of $235 million withheld over seven years on the grounds of the UNFPA’s participation in a programme of forced abortion and sterilization. See my post last week on this topic.

When Tony Blair goes to China to explain to global citizens how to tackle the great social ills that we face today, will any Chinese citizens be able to ask him any questions, who have been fined, had their property destroyed, imprisoned or tortured for resisting forced abortion, or forced sterilization, a policy funded by his government?

In-depth information about China's one-child policy can be found in SPUC's February 2004 submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

The hypocrisy of Tony Blair takes some beating.