Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pray to end the sacrifice of unborn children

British Catholic readers of this blog will be interested in a message I've received from Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs for the Catholic archdiocese of Westminster, about the nine-month tour of England and Wales of a full-scale relic replica of the famous image of our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn. I blogged about the tour back in May.

Edmund writes:
"This digitally reproduced relic image with official seals imprinted upon it is one of only 220 commissioned by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera in 2004 and entrusted for distribution to nations which welcome them." Edmund explains that the original image is associated with the ending in the 17th century of "the deeply embedded cultural practice of human sacrifice" among the Aztecs.
For those who believe in prayer, it could not be more important to pray at this time in Britain. Unborn children are being sacrificed, through the government's policy of providing schoolchildren, including schoolchildren in Catholic schools, with access to abortion services.

Edmund continues:
"The novena began between March 11-17 2010...It extended to three other London parishes, including Ealing Abbey and the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden, North London. The permission of each diocesan bishop has been sought to allow the image to be welcomed in his diocese for devotional purposes for the cause of the Gospel of Life, the protection of the unborn, the sanctity of families and the peace of the nation.

"The novena tour which will conclude on weekend of 11th/12th December, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Westminster Cathedral. The image is available on request now and beyond December 12th to any parish/community where the Local Ordinary has already granted permission. Please contact 020 7798 9363 for further details."
The full schedule and other details about the tour can be read on the SPUC website.

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Friday, 13 August 2010

There's no evidence for pro-abort claim about Polish abortions in Britain

The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning has been promoting the figure of 10,000 Polish women coming to the UK each year for abortion. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, and Daniel Blackman, who researches international affairs for SPUC, have debunked this claim. They have concluded that:
"There is no solid evidence to support this. It appears that the figure is self-serving speculation."
I publish their analysis in full below.

All abortions in the UK must be registered
The number of registered, legal abortions performed in England and Wales is published each year by the Department of Health of the British government. Abortions performed in Scotland are published separately by the Health Department of the Scottish government. (Scottish abortions account for about 7% of the UK total.) Here, for simplicity, we consider only the England and Wales figures.

The Department of Health is the main provider of abortions in the UK. These abortions are funded through the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and are performed either in NHS-owned hospitals or with NHS funding in privately-run clinics. About six percent of abortions are performed in privately-run clinics and are paid for privately. These include a proportion which are performed on overseas women not entitled to NHS funding.

Britain has a reciprocal agreement with Poland for the provision of free medical care under EU regulations. The minimum documentation a patient needs is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

No official estimate of Polish ‘visitor’ abortions
The Department of Health’s Statistical Bulletin: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2009 says that for 2009, there were 20 women resident in Poland who had abortions here, which accounted for 0.3% of all abortions on non-resident women. (Table 12a Legal abortions: non residents by country of residence, 2009) This only records those women who said that they were resident in Poland when applying for an abortion. There may be other women who came here for abortions but gave the address of a friend already living in the UK. We are not aware of any study or survey by the Department of Health or any other body to establish an official estimate of this number accurately.

It would be difficult to make an accurate estimate, especially as there is a sizable number of Polish women resident in the UK. One would expect that there are probably a certain number of UK-resident Polish women who have abortions. This means that it would not necessarily be remarkable if, say, a Polish-speaking woman sought an abortion.

Abortions on non-residents are in decline
In 2009, there were 6,643 abortions to residents of other countries compared with 6,862 in 2008. Principally, these non-residents were from Northern Ireland (17%) and the Irish Republic (67%). The number of abortions to non-residents remained between 9,000 and 10,000 in the period 1995 to 2003. The 2009 total is the lowest in any year since 1969.

It would seem unlikely in this context that a growing number of women from Poland are coming to Britain for abortions, especially not on the scale of thousands.

Polish migration
In 2008, there were 64,000 Polish immigrants coming into the UK. Assuming that about half are women, and that the large majority are of child-bearing age, gives a figure of, say 30,000. If 10,000 women were to have an abortion, that would mean one third of the Polish women coming to the UK are coming here to have an abortion. This would seem hugely implausible. There is no evidence for this.

Lack of plausibility
Would women travel to a foreign country, find accommodation (which is very expensive in the UK), find employment (which can be difficult at present), register with the necessary agencies for NHS treatment, etc., given:
(a) the time all this would take (some weeks or months)
(b) the cost it would incur (travel, accommodation – rent, deposit, insurance – employment expenses, etc.)
c) the administration involved (e.g. getting references for accommodation and work)
d) the social isolation often entailed (language difficulty; lack of friends
- when they could book an abortion at a private clinic, probably for much less cost, and certainly far less time and hassle?

In summary
The claim lacks substance and credibility.

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Thursday, 12 August 2010

New international pro-life newsletter from SPUC

Today we at SPUC have sent out a newsletter to our European and other international contacts. The newsletter contains action alerts on European and international affairs:

Conscientious objection to anti-life practices threatened at Council of Europe
A report on conscientious objection in medicine will be debated in early October in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The report’s focus is conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia. Please contact your country’s representatives in PACE. More information is available in:
Human embryos in danger via European Parliament animal rights directive
A draft directive on animal experimentation will be debated during the European Parliament’s plenary session on 7 September 2010. The directive could result in scientists experimenting on human embryos instead of animals. Please contact the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing your area. More information is available in:
Maternal mortality: moves at UN to promote abortion as human right
A right to abortion, under the guise of reproductive health, will be proposed at a United Nations (UN) summit in New York between 20 and 22 September 2010. Please contact strongly pro-life politicians in your country. More information is available in:
If you would like to receive our international newsletter by email, please visit and sign-up to the European affairs list. Existing subscribers to SPUC's email services can add themselves to the European affairs list by first clicking on the "Unsubscribe or change your preferences at" link at the bottom of any recent SPUC email message.

If you would like to receive our international newsletter by post, please supply SPUC with your personal details and postal address either by:
We want to provide this crucial service to as many pro-life contacts as possible. You can help us by forwarding the information in this blog-post to other pro-life groups and contacts in your country. If you know of any pro-life contacts who would like to receive this newsletter, please ask them also supply SPUC with their contact-details by email, telephone or post as above.

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Professor Walley speaks of dark changes in obstetrics

Fiorella Nash, as many visitors will know, has an excellent blog entitled Monstrous Regiment of Women. A recent post of hers on maternal mortality, for example, included useful practical information for all mothers-to-be.

Last week she posted the above YouTube clip featuring Dr Robert Walley, the president of MaterCare.

Dr Walley is professor or obstetrics and gynaecology at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland.

He presents a beautiful account of pregnancy and childbirth from the perspective of a doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology. When he began training in 1968 he was told that an obstetrician has one objective: "to ensure to the best of his ability that all pregnancies should result in a live healthy baby and a live healthy mother".

He and his colleagues were well-trained in life-saving skills which, with increasing success, were enabling women with medical complications, such as diabetes, epilepsy and heart and kidney diseases, to become mothers - albeit with a lot of extra medical help. Dr Walley cites the (then current) 16th edition of Williams Obstetrics (the leading text in obstetrics for more than 100 years):
"Happily we live and work in an era in which the foetus is established as our second patient with many rights and privileges comparable to those previously achieved only after birth."
Dr Walley goes on to speak about the dark changes that have occurred since then, in particular the passage of abortion legislation which has "turned the practice of obstetrics upside-down" - resulting in millions of abortions and "destruction and despair" rather than positive help for mothers.

You should watch this simple, compelling, educational video.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Join Good Counsel Network's day of prayer and fasting this Saturday

This Saturday, 14th August, is the monthly day of prayer and fasting for life held by Good Counsel Network. I have blogged previously about The Good Counsel Network and their fantastic work supporting mothers and children facing an abortion.

These days of prayer are an emphatic response from this Catholic pro-life group to John Paul II's statement that a great prayer for life is urgently needed (Evangelium Vitae 100). I ask all readers who pray to consider participating in this day in whatever manner is suitable for you.

As they always do, Good Counsel Network advises that one can fast from all food except bread and water for the day or fast from any particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, TV. The Good Counsel Network recommends that you fast from whatever you can given your state of health, but to make sure it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself. You can view their poster for the day in pdf format here.
And He said to them; This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29)
You might also enjoy reading Good Counsel Network's blog which is regularly updated.

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Pro-life TV programme wins Emmy Award

Recently I blogged on a beautiful episode  of 'Facing Life Head-On', a pro-life TV show hosted by Brad Mattes of Life Issues Institute. The show focused on Missy Davert, a woman who is 2 feet and 11 inches tall, and her incredible battle to give birth to her unborn children.

Last week the show was awarded a regional Emmy Award in the category of Interview and Discussion. Upon accepting the award Brad Mattes, host and executive producer of the show said: "I believe this is a first for the pro-life movement—receiving an accolade at this level by the media industry, much less the Academy".

The award is a testimony to both an expertly produced show and the heroic actions of Missy Davert in defence of her children. reports that:
Doctors advised Davert and her husband that she should abort one or both of the infants due to the many difficulties that her pregnancy would entail – an option that the tiny, but feisty woman was unwilling to consider.

With the help of Dr. Daniel Wechter, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist based in Saginaw, Michigan, she was able to carry the twins for 32 weeks before giving birth to Austin and Michaela. They are now 10 years old.

“Missy’s story is an inspiration to any woman who may be facing a high-risk pregnancy” reads a description of the episode on Facing Life Head-On’s website. “With the help and support of Dr. Wechter, Missy was able to defy the odds and give birth to two beautiful children.”

In the acceptance speech at the black-tie award ceremony, Brad Mattes thanked God for allowing him to interview guests that have been such an inspiration to his viewers.

"We thank God for this award. The glory goes to Him.  It’s His ministry."

The award-winning episode can be bought or viewed here.  

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Monday, 9 August 2010

Catholic archbishops should stop whitewashing anti-life policies

Euthanasia by neglect is a frightening reality of our world today, a society John Paul II rightly described as a culture of death. I know from personal experience the reality of how euthanasia by neglect is promoted. SPUC also knows about euthanasia by neglect because families often turn to us when they are most desperate. Indeed the secular media even know about it.

It is interesting to see that Archbishop Longley of Birmingham made dying with dignity the focus the Catholic Church’s Day for Life this year. Interesting, not least because his fellow archbishop, Peter Smith of Southwark (pictured) was interviewed in The Catholic Herald citing the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as his greatest achievement. I objected strongly to this, because the Mental Capacity Act extended the possible scope of euthanasia by neglect in English statute law.

The Herald interview was misleading with regard to a particular amendment to the Mental Capacity Act which Archbishop Smith claimed had been authored by Professor John Finnis of Oxford university. Archbishop Smith claimed that the amendment had provided a key safeguard against euthanasia by neglect. Thanks to correspondence I received from Professor Finnis, following my post on the Catholic Herald article, it was established that the amendment had not been authored by Professor Finnis and it was made even more clear that the amendment did not provide any real safeguard against euthanasia by neglect.

    It is sometimes suggested that lobbying of government by the church leaders in England and Wales, like Archbishop Smith is important, and indeed effective, in the promotion of a culture of life, because it assures the best that can be gotten from bad legislation.

    The truth is the interview in The Catholic Herald simply served to perpetuate the myth that all is well in the hands of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. The same myth was promoted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols during the previous governments’ attempt to force schools to teach anti-life and anti-family sex and relationships education. I thank Christ the Law-giver that the Gospel of Life is based on objective truth and not on the self-serving myths of prelates intent on co-operating with the government of the day.

    I have a number of questions for Archbishops Smith and Nichols:
    • Will you now urgently and directly inform Catholics and non-Catholics of the dire consequences of the Mental Capacity Act?
    • Will you provide quality pastoral assistance for individuals and families facing the threat of euthanasia, instead of just leaving it up to relatively small organisations like SPUC?
    • Will you now apologise for opposing SPUC’s campaign against the Act?
    • When will you stop whitewashing bad policies and providing cover for anti-life governments?

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    Sunday, 8 August 2010

    Congratulations to Cardinal Keith O'Brien, protector of the unborn, on his silver jubilee

    Cardinal Keith O'Brien, no stranger to controversy, is in the news again today.

    On behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, who celebrated last Thursday the silver jubilee of his ordination as a bishop. Unborn babies in Britain and Northern Ireland are undoubtedly safer because of him.  If you want to write to congratulate him, you will find his contact details here.

    I will never forget the fearless manner in which Cardinal Keith O'Brien told the truth about the British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

    In his Easter Sunday sermon in March 2008, he laid the responsibility for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill squarely on the shoulders of Gordon Brown. He said:
    "Our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has given the government's support to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

    "It is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation which, more comprehensively, attacks the sanctity and dignity of human life than this particular bill.

    With full might of government endorsement, Gordon Brown is promoting a bill that will allow the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos ...

    ... He is promoting a bill which denies that a child has a biological father, allows tampering with birth certificates, removing biological parents, and inserting someone altogether different ...*

    ... And this bill will indeed be used to further extend the abortion laws. This bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life".
    There's little doubt that the Cardinal's courage, for which he was widely attacked, was one of the factors which prompted Gordon Brown to step back from the brink, not just once but twice, of allowing pro-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which would have led to the most damaging extension of the Abortion Act for over 40 years. Another vital factor was the stand taken by Northern Ireland politicians.

    *I can't but comment here that, by way of contrast, Archbishop Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, has defended the appointment of Greg Pope as deputy director of the Catholic Education Service who, as an MP voted against amendments which sought to retain the requirement for doctors to consider the child’s need for a father (20 May 2008) or male role model (20 May 2008) before a woman is given fertility treatment. He also voted against a bill which would have required practitioners providing contraception or abortion services to a child under the age of 16 to inform his or her parent or guardian (14 Mar 2007) and he supported a substantial number of appalling anti-life and anti-family measures and positions as an MP. As a result of his appointment, and Archbishop Nichols's defence of it, unborn children, our children in schools and the rights of parents are less safe than they might be.

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    Birmingham Oratory spokesman confirms Birmingham Three are entirely guiltless

    Ruth Dudley Edwards (pictured), the author, historian, biographer and journalist, writes this month in Standpoint about the Birmingham Three. The Birmingham Three are Birmingham Oratorians known for their championship of the unborn. They publicly opposed the anti-life, anti-family sex and relationships education policies of the last Government and of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales.

    Dr Dudley Edwards writes:
    "I'll be writing in the next issue venomously about the scandalous way in which these men have been treated, and of the apparent inability of the Catholic Church to learn the downside of secrecy and authoritarianism. But for now I'm just putting it on the record that, in a lengthy interview with me, the ubiquitous Jack Valero of Opus Dei, spokesman for the Newman canonisation cause and the Birmingham Oratory, has confirmed unequivocally that the Three are entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever, including, specifically, sexual misdemeanours or homophobia."
    Read what she says in full here. As I said in June: "Everything covered up will be uncovered at the Birmingham Oratory". It could not be more important for a proper understanding of this scandal that, according to the spokesman for the Birmingham Oratory, these men are "are entirely guiltless of any wrong-doing whatsoever". I will return to this matter shortly.

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