Friday, 16 December 2016

SPUC makes submission to Ireland's "Citizens' Assembly"

SPUC representatives in Ireland have today made a submission to the Citizens' Assembly - a body of 99 Irish citizens, selected by a polling agency - where the Eighth Amendment  is being discussed. You can read the full press release on the SPUC website.


SPUC has also released a video, calling on Irish people throughout the world to rally to the defence of the nation’s unborn children. In Ireland children in the womb are currently protected from abortion by the pro-life Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution.

In this video, leading pro-life campaigners in Ireland, and from the Irish diaspora worldwide, explain why the Eighth Amendment must be preserved and defended. 

Speakers include former presidential candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon, internationally renowned pro-life speaker Rebecca Kiessling, and former MEP and disability rights campaigner Kathy Sinnott. The video also features Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, a leading Catholic figure in the pro-life movement. I urge you all to watch and share this video and take action to defend the children of Ireland.

About the amendment

This Eighth Amendment, passed in 1983, reads:

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

This amendment, which is estimated to have saved more than 100,000 lives since its introduction in 1983, is under sustained attack from international pro-abortion campaigners. The Irish government convened a Citizen’s Assembly to discuss proposals to repeal the Eighth Amendment and thus overturn constitutional protection for unborn children. The Citizen’s Assembly consists of 99 Irish citizens, selected by a polling agency, which has convened under the chairmanship of Justice Mary Laffoy. It is widely expected that the assembly will recommend that a referendum be held on the repeal of the amendment. This will probably be held early in 2018, though it is possible that it may be held during 2017.

Despite false claims, the Eighth Amendment simply recognises that unborn babies have a right to life equal to that of their mothers. Ireland's maternal health record, among the best in the world, also reflects the fact that Irish doctors are trained to treat a mother and her unborn child as two equal patients. 

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, former SPUC Executive Committee member, dies

The whole of SPUC team and I are saddened to learn of the death of the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, who served on the Society's Executive Committee in the early 70s.

Lady Salisbury has been a consistent champion of the right to life of unborn children since the passage of the Abortion Act almost five decades ago. She served on SPUC's executive committee and was always a strong supporter of the Society's work.

In October, 2008, Lady Salisbury organised a Choose Life service of prayer and worship to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act. The service took place at the Memorial to Innocent Victims built into the pavement area immediately outside the West Door of the Abbey (the photo shows me talking to her at that event). In recent years, Lady Salisbury has been a leading opponent of euthanasia.

We give thanks for her life and her witness and our members and supporters will be praying for her family at this sad time.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

Paul Tully is a giant in British and Irish pro-life history and SPUC’s history

Paul Tully leaves SPUC’s employment for pastures new today as a giant in SPUC’s history as well as British and Irish pro-life history, alongside other giants such as Elspeth Chowdharay-Best and Alan Smith (who founded the Society in late 1966/early 1967) and Phyllis Bowman, SPUC’s first director/chief executive (who forged the grassroots educational and political movement on which all our pro-life work is based).

35 years ago almost to the day, Paul Tully started work for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children as SPUC’s membership registrar. He was responsible for managing the Society’s index-card member records from 1981 till 1983. During that period SPUC acquired a microcomputer and Paul transferred our records to a database system. Paul went on to undertake a number of important roles in SPUC’s employment, including head of research and representing SPUC in the broadcast media, until becoming SPUC’s general secretary nearly two decades ago, and deputy chief executive in more recent years.

I think that pro-life activists, especially young people in the movement, should study the work of Paul Tully – which you can begin to do by reviewing his many contributions to my blog and his appearances/contributions on the SPUC website. His knowledge and analysis of the medico-scientific, legal and political issues facing the pro-life movement are second to none – and Paul leaves a permanent legacy to Britain in the form of historic life-saving achievements in which he played a critical role, for example:

  • In 2009 SPUC successfully took the Department of Health and Public Services to court to prevent them from introducing more widespread abortion into Northern Ireland by the back door – Paul’s knowledge and experience of fighting against abortion in the courts on behalf of SPUC was crucial in this victory which has saved countless lives.
  • In 2011, in what became known as the ‘bedroom abortions’ case, legal arguments submitted by SPUC’s lawyers helped to prevent a change in the law that would have allowed abortions to take place in the home. Mr Justice Supperstone, when making his ruling, cited the argument put forward by SPUC’s lawyers on the advice of Paul Tully.

In addition, Paul Tully’s expert briefings sent to SPUC’s tens of thousands of local activists played a critical role:

  • In the overwhelming defeat of assisted suicide legislation in 2015
  • In the defeat of the (Labour) Government’s moves to make sex education compulsory throughout the school years in 2010
  • In stopping legislative proposals to remove virtually all legal protection for unborn children in Britain in 2010

And of course I must mention here Paul’s massive contribution to the Glasgow midwives’ case in which SPUC supported two brave senior midwives from Glasgow, Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, who fought to protect their right to conscientious objection to abortion. In April of 2013, Mary and Connie won a unanimous appeal court ruling which upheld that their right to conscientious objection was protected by law and Paul’s meticulous briefing of Connie and Mary and their lawyers, and his daily support of Connie and Mary, played an important role in achieving that ruling – tragically overturned by the Supreme Court in London the following year.

Katherine Hampton, Paul’s assistant, who has worked for SPUC for 23 years, reminded me of countless other lasting achievements in the work of Paul Tully which I do not have time and space to mention today – but I will return to this important subject.

On a personal level, I have worked closely with Paul every day of my working life for the past 35 years. He and Antonia, his wife, have been very good friends to me. I will miss Paul deeply and sorely. Whenever I have thought about Paul’s influence on my life I have been put in mind of the “just man” to whom the Bible refers in many places, including in Psalm 112:
Blessed the man who fears the Lord
Who greatly delights in his commands …
… It is good for the man gracious in lending
Who conducts his affairs with justice.
For he shall never be shaken;
The righteous shall be remembered forever.
He shall not fear an ill report
His heart is steadfast trusting the Lord.
His heart is tranquil, without fear
Till at last he looks down on his foes
Thank you Paul. You are a true giant in SPUC’s history and in British and Irish pro-life history. Josephine and I will be praying for you and for your family as you go on to fulfil your long-cherished career ambition in which you are so eminently (including professionally) well-qualified. Your new employers and colleagues are very fortunate – and I would bet my bottom dollar that you will remain at the heart of pro-life work, not least because of the legacy you have left us, for decades to come.

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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mother Teresa's message to SPUC's rally, Christ's love, lives on in the work of Good Counsel Network and the pro-life movement

33 years on since Mother Teresa's memorable address to SPUC's "Call to Humanity" pro-life rally in Hyde Park, London, her love - that is, Christ's love - lives on in so many aspects of the work of the pro-life movement.

It lives on, for example, in the wonderful work of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children's sister organisation, Good Counsel Network.

Good Counsel Network simply never stops quietly and effectively saving babies' lives and protecting and supporting mothers every day of the week, 52 weeks of the year. They carry on doing so quietly and effectively in spite of media attacks on their life-saving work - attacks which simply ignore the countless women who benefit from the caring work of Good Counsel Network.

To give you an example of what I mean, SPUC's "oldest" volunteer (he's been volunteering at SPUC's HQ for 42 years) came into the office today (27th October, the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act being passsed by Parliament) and told me the following:
"I have over the years been involved in the pro-life cause (SPUC, LIFE and the Good Counsel Network). Many times the cause seems to progress and sometimes something knocks you back, but usually it's all done with prayer and hope.

"In my volunteering work for Good Counsel Network, we offer prayer, leafleting and education. We also offer leaflets to those going into abortion clinics explaining the start of life and development of the child. Those leaflets offer help and counselling during pregnancy and the offer of after-care.

"I was made aware of how well others in our movement get through to people when a lady walked across to me and shook me by the hand. She wanted to tham me for the work of others in the movement. Not something I did especially, any more than what we all do in praying for those in all things to do with their baby.

"She wanted to thank those of our organisation who guided and helped her through her pregnancy. She had intended not to continue with ther pregnancy. Her son encouraged her not to have an abortion.

"She shook me by the hand. Gee whizz, that's worth more than money.

"You know what else? It happened on the annviersary of the passing of the Abortion Act."
(Today, SPUC put out a statement on the 49th anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act saying "Today marks the 49th anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act. We need to make the idea of abortion being completely illegal normal- because it really is normal not to kill children.")

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Poland's Stop Abortion Citizens' Initiative sought to uphold international law

I have just returned from fact-finding trip to Poland with SPUC's international team where we were hosted by the Ordo Iuris team which led the recent Stop Abortion Citizens' Initiative supported by nearly half a million Polish citizens. Whilst in Warsaw, the SPUC team were invited to address a press conference convened in connection with our visit. This is what I said:
I am very disappointed that the Stop Abortion Citizens’ Initiative was sadly stopped in its tracks by the party leadership pressure in Poland including pressure on the Polish bishops. [The Stop Abortion Citizens’ initiative was supported by nearly half a million Polish citizens and sought to make abortion in Poland completely unlawful.]

Today is the feast day of St John Cantius who was raised up by Providence to keep alight the torch of faith and the flame of Christian charity in the 15th century in Poland. The Stop Abortion initiative has been raised by Providence to keep alight the teaching of the Church on the inviolability of the sanctity of human life from conception and Christian charity in the 21st century by proposing legislation designed to defend the lives of the weakest, most vulnerable children in the world - those who are disabled and those who are conceived as a result of a crime such as rape, as well as providing for greater support for mothers to be facing difficult pregnancies.
In launching their initiative Ordo Iuris and their pro-life allies were seeking to implement Article Three of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which upholds the right to life.
Article Two of the UNDHR states “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” And Article Six states: “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” After the tragic experience of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, the drafters of the Universal Declaration wanted to ensure that legislators could never treat a particular group of people as “non-persons”, such as unborn children.
The right to life of unborn children is also upheld in the 1959 Declaration of Human Rights and in the 1989 Convention on Human Rights which states in its preamble: “Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "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".
Currently Poland permits abortion in certain circumstances. The logical outcome of legalised abortion in certain circumstances is that abortion becomes available in all or any circumstances. Imagine if in Poland you had legislation which permitted a particular racial or religious group to be killed. It's obvious that in such a situation everybody's human rights would be threatened because unequivocal respect for the dignity of human life had been removed from your statutes.
The only thing which really protects society's weakest, most vulnerable human beings, are moral absolutes. Once legislators accept that it's OK directly to kill an innocent child in the womb, the defence against killing any unborn child is torn away.
What is being done in Poland by Ordo Iuris and their pro-life allies is to make the idea of stopping abortion completely in Poland completely normal - because it really is normal not to kill children.
Future generations will take that fact for granted and will look at what is happening today with horror and utter disbelief.

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Abortions suspended at Marie Stopes: "Women are being channelled into the abortion industry funded by the Department of Health"

Paul Tully SPUC's general secretary
Late on the afternoon of Friday 19th August Marie Stopes International (MSI) was reported to have suspended half of its abortion services following a report from the Care Quality Commission(CQC). These restrictions have immediate effect. According to other press reports these CQC concerns related to poor governance arrangements and to specific immediate concerns relating to the lack of assurance in MSI regarding consent and safeguarding and in training and competence in conscious sedation and general anaesthesia.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has condemned the reaction of the CQC to the dangerous and illegal abortion practices in private abortion clinics as inadequate, immoral and unlawful collusion in criminal activity.

The law permits abortion only when there is a health risk meaning that continuing the pregnancy is more dangerous than an abortion. The department of health and the CQC disregard the law and thousands of women are mis-certified for abortion. 98% of abortions are certified on mental grounds when there is no real risk to her mental or physical health if she has the baby. These abortions are illegal. If abortion agencies had the welfare of women truly at heart, they would ensure that the illegal practices that Marie Stopes, BPAS, NHS hospitals and others follow were stopped.

Paul Tully, SPUC General Secretary said:
"Pregnant women are suffering intolerably. The CQC is defending illegal government abortion policy which kills children and sometimes women too. Women are not being offered proper support when facing difficulties in pregnancy - they are simply being channelled into the abortion industry funded by the Department of Health.

"Voluntary sector groups like the pro-life organisations, churches and family support groups struggle to provide real practical help but the statutory providers offer pregnant women nothing but abortion. The Departmental policy fuels abortion on an industrial scale - 550 abortions every day in Britain. Abortion is an inherently risky interference in the natural pregnancy process.

"Women like Aisha Chithira who died after a Marie Stopes abortion in Ealing represent only the tip of the iceberg of women who are killed, injured or left with long term problems resulting from infection, extreme emotional distress or the dangerous hormonal changes caused by abortion which can affect breast physiology. Jade Rees who committed suicide 3 weeks after a 'legal' abortion last year shows how dangerous abortion is to women from a mental health perspective."
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Friday, 5 August 2016

Amber and Jenny, SPUC interns, provide hope for the future of the pro-life movement

Like me, you may be inspired to read the report from SPUC interns Amber Farquhar (left) and Jenny Wordley, both Open University students living in Wales.

Jennifer Wordley is from Tenby in Pembrokeshire and is 21 years old. Amber Farquhar is from Llangadog in Carmarthenshire and is 19.

The breadth and depth of SPUC's internship scheme is reflected in Amber's and Jenny's report, not least in their conclusion below.

Young people interested in attending the SPUC youth conference (3 - 5 March 2017) or, perhaps, joining the Society's internship scheme next year should contact Rhoslyn Thomas, the Society's youth organizer, at or on Facebook.

13-22 July 2016

Report of the six week internship for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, detailing the different opportunities and work we were involved with, including pavement counselling, campaigning in Ireland with Youth Defence and against a Polish Medical Centre, debating prolife issues, and general administration work:

Pavement Counselling and Meetings
The first few days of the internship involved looking at the methods of pavement counselling by Msgr. Reilly, to help distressed women seeking an abortion clinic to terminate their pregnancy. The first Wednesday, and the following Wednesdays whilst in London, we put these methods into practice at the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Whitfield street, where we witnessed and attempted to help a number of women entering and leaving the clinic before and after having an abortion.

We attended a meeting organised by Anglican Mainstream, where speakers described their work and ideas to combat issues within the Protestant Church and to preserve their traditional family morals.

We attended an excellent explanation and discussion of Humanae Vitae given by Fr. Romanus in Saint Anselm’s Church, Tooting.

Youth Defence
We spent two weeks travelling Ireland and assisting prolife campaigners from Youth Defence on their annual national roadshow. We helped with door-to-door canvassing in certain areas, distributed leaflets and discussed and spread the prolife message on the streets.

We assisted with the organisation and stewardship of the rally for life in Belfast. On our return we wrote a short anecdotal piece describing our experiences and encouraging others to join the movement for publication on Youth Defence’s website

Campaign against Tooting Medical Centre
One of the main projects we focused on was campaigning against a Polish Medical Centre in Tooting which is performing abortions. Two weeks of the internship involved visiting some of the Polish centres in London, acting as a witness by praying outside the centre, and door to door canvassing, with the purpose of making the Polish community aware of the scandal and the ways in which they can help us to stop abortion from occurring in this Centre.

General Admin, Reading, Discussions
We assisted with the updating of the database, sorting of mail, packaging mailings for postage, and other duties associated with the general running of the office.

We were provided with a generous amount of academic articles, and analyses of surveys and information which focused on the various issues which SPUC address. This was supported by informative discussions with Rhoslyn Thomas, Dr Anthony McCarthy and other staff members, and practice sessions for effectively answering questions in favour of abortion.

We had the opportunity to observe a talk given at St. John Payne’s school, and give a short presentation on why we ourselves are prolife to the students there. Afterwards we were able to take part in a short question and answer session.


This internship has given us the opportunity to experience the environment in which pro-life activists work. The reading provided gave us a deeper insight into all arguments used for abortion and other issues that SPUC deal with, and how to efficiently debate and defend our views.

We have been able to see the different methods in which one should communicate the pro-life argument to many people, especially women, under different circumstances. This has also given us an insight into what is needed in the pro-life movement, whether it be office work, or outside campaigning, to ensure that our message gets across to as many people as possible.

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Theresa May on Christianity, abortion, compulsory sex education: an interview with SPUC's Anthony Ozimic by the German Catholic press

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's director of communications, was recently interviewed by Die Tagespost, a German Catholic newspaper, about Theresa May. They wanted to know the position of the new prime minister on issues of relevance to Christians:

Theresa May is the new Prime Minister of the UK. How Christian is she? And what is the role of her faith for her political work?
Anthony Ozimic: As a secular, non-denominational organisation, SPUC cannot comment precisely on her religious faith. However, we can note that she is the daughter of an Anglican vicar; and we are aware of some comments that this upbringing had had some influence on her way of approaching politics. She describes herself as a One-Nation Conservative. One-Nation Conservatism was founded by Benjamin Disraeli, the Victorian Prime Minster and Anglican convert at the height of the Church of England’s influence. It has very similar bases to Anglicanism: paternalism, pragamatism, social conscience.
Does her previous voting behavior give information about that? Where does she stand on Christian issues like Sunday Trading and assisted suicide and other Pro-Life issues?
Anthony Ozimic: Mrs May’s voting record implies a sensitivity to pro-life concerns. In 2001 and 2008, she voted against various unethical embryo research proposals. She also voted to uphold a requirement that IVF doctors consider a child's need for a father and a mother. Also in 2008 and 2015, she voted with the pro-life lobby for amendments aimed at restricting abortion. Also in 2015, she voted against assisted suicide. For her record on Christian issues, please visit 

Will she possibly campaign for example for an amendment of the British Abortion Act?
Anthony Ozimic: I think this is very unlikely. As an individual MP, she may vote in a pro-life direction if a back-bench MP brings forward an amendment. She is, however, a pragmatist and is not committed to the pro-life cause, therefore I would be extremely surprised if she decided to ‘campaign’ to amend the Abortion Act.
Anthony Ozimic
In 2010 Theresa May told the BBC that she had changed her mind on same-sex adoption, after previously voting against the proposal to allow it. Recently, she said: “I will always stand up for the rights of LGBT people. (…) I supported Civil Partnerships in 2004, and was proud to sponsor the legislation that introduced full marriage equality in 2013 because I believe marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. I didn’t believe the State should perpetuate discrimination and prejudice against LGBT people. That's why equal marriage was a hugely significant social reform”. What do you think about that?
Anthony Ozimic: I think it reflects her pragmatic approach. The key is her use of the word ‘social reform’, which reflects One-Nation Conservatism’s approach of organic evolution of society. Elsewhere, she has spoken about how homosexuals ‘will make marriage stronger’. Although her comments about homosexual rights, discrimination, prejudice, etc. sound ideological, I doubt that she is ideologically committed to the homosexual cause. It seems that she has a tendency to use strong rhetoric in support of a position once she has switched to it.
Will Theresa May make sex education compulsory in school?

Anthony Ozimic: I think there is a real possibility of this happening because of the appointment of Justine Greening as Education Secretary, who has a poor voting record on moral issues. Ms Greening announced to this year’s London Gay Pride march that she is a lesbian. It is speculated that both Mrs May and Ms Greening support compulsory sex education.
What will SPUC do to encourage the new cabinet to campaign for the Christian Agenda and Pro-Life issues?

Anthony Ozimic: As the world’s oldest pro-life lobbying organisation, we will do what we have been doing for almost 50 years: we will mobilise our tens of thousands of grassroots supporters to lobby MPs, and through MPs try to influence the Cabinet. The believers among our members will also be praying for Mrs May and her ministers.
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Friday, 22 July 2016

50 years ago today MPs approved 2nd Reading of the Abortion Act 1967 on the basis of lies

Lord David Steel, formerly David Steel MP,
the principal sponsor of the Abortion Act 1967
Fifty years ago today, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill [subsequently the Abortion Act 1967] passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons with a massive vote of 223 votes for and 29 against.

SPUC calculates that, so far, 8,624,567 innocent lives have been lost under the 1967 Abortion Act.

It's instructive to consider the the pro-abortion lobby’s claims in 1966 in the second reading debate and during subsequent debates on this tragic legislation:
  • “…it is not the intention of the promoters of the Bill to leave a wide open door for abortion on request.” (David Steel, Hansard 5th Series, Vol 732, col 1075, 22 July, 1966)
  • “Nobody is advocating abortion on demand in this Committee or anywhere else…” (David Steel, Standing Committee F, 15 February 1967, col 250)
  • "It is certainly not a general licence to a medical practitioner to carry out an abortion on anybody who desires it.” (Lord Silkin, sponsor of the Abortion Act 1967 in the House of Lords, Hansard, 19 July 1967, col 263)
What proved to be true was the following:
  • As early as 1972, a report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) stated: “…there is no such danger of injury [to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman] in the vast majority of cases [of women seeking abortion], as the ‘indication’ is purely a social one.” (RCOG Report on Unplanned pregnancy. London, England: RCOG; 1972)
  • And (Lord) David Steel himself, formerly David Steel MP, has, over the decades, openly promoted abortion on demand: "If it's simply the decision of the mother then the limit should be 12 weeks" (BBC, 4 July 2004).
  • He has also written: "Incidentally, I was misreported in one Sunday paper as advocating a lower limit for "social" abortions. There should be no such distinction - proper medical care takes all social considerations into account…." (The Guardian 6 July 2004).
  • And, earlier this year, Lord Steel said regarding the state of the law in Northern Ireland that it was “simply ridiculous” and “absolutely extraordinary” that abortion is not widely available there.
Back-street abortion claims

The most widely promoted claim by the pro-abortion lobby in 1966, in Parliament and in the media, was that the Abortion Act was necessary to overcome back-street abortion and deaths associated with back-street abortion. The pro-abortion lobby’s estimates as to the number of back-street abortions rose to hundreds of thousands – but the evidence indicates a very different reality.

David Steel MP, the principal sponsor of the Abortion Act, claimed in the parliamentary debate:
“I would not settle for any definite figure, but it is probably somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000 a year.” (David Steel, Hansard 5th Series, Vol 732 col 1071 22 July 1966)
The truth was:

In 1966, the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) showed that, in 1962, approximately 14,600 women in England and Wales had received hospital treatment for the consequences of criminal abortion. The RCOG Council commented: “It has been repeatedly stated that as many as 100,000 criminal abortions are induced in this country each year, and a more recent estimate is 250,000. These, and an earlier figure of 50,000, are without any secure factual foundation of which we are aware.” (Legalised Abortion: Report by the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists”, British Medical Journal, 1966; 1: 850-854.)

In developed countries, the number of women dying from abortion started to fall significantly in the decades before abortion laws were liberalised. Numbers in England and Wales fell from 96 deaths in 1950 to 56 deaths in 1960, and to 32 deaths in 1970. (World Health Statistics Report, Vol.30, no.4, Geneva: World Health Organisation, 1977, p.322.; World Health Statistics Annual 1970, Geneva: WHO, 1973, vol.1, p.516.) (These figures include deaths from both legal and illegal abortions, as well as natural miscarriages.) Medical advances, such as the use of antibiotics, have been the most important factor in this trend.

After the British Abortion Act was implemented in 1968, the overall trend in the number of women dying from all causes in their main childbearing years continued the steady decrease already in evidence, apart from a slight increase in 1968 itself. (Report on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom 1985-1987, London: HMSO, 1991, p.6.) In other words, there was no sudden, marked decline in women’s deaths which could be attributed to the working of the Abortion Act.

The same pattern of exaggeration has characterised campaigns for legalised abortion all over the world. Former abortionist Dr Bernard Nathanson has admitted that he deceived people about the number of abortion deaths while campaigning for pro-abortion law in the United States. (Bernard N. Nathanson (with Richard N. Ostling), Aborting America, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1979, p.193.)

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A new book which brings great clarity to sexual ethics

I very much encourage my readers to listen to a discussion just posted on SPUC's YouTube channel of a new book by Dr Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's Education Director, entitled Ethical Sex: Sexual Choices and Their Nature and Meaning (buy on Amazon). Introducing the book is Thomas Pink, professor of philosophy at King's College, London.

Why is this of interest? In short, because the book brings philosophical clarity to the difficult subject of sexual ethics - a subject of deep relevance to pro-life issues. Ideologies which undermine respect for the unique nature of human sexuality and fertility have grave consequences for the lives of the unborn insofar as they undermine the natural institutions which are their best protection.

I would urge readers to buy and study this ambitious academic book so as to strengthen their understanding of this crucial area of ethics.

Here is what two leading philosophers have been saying about the book:
"McCarthy's book on sex and marriage is full of fascinating, creative and powerful arguments. It interacts with a broad base of philosophical, literary and theological reflection, from Aquinas and Shakespeare to a rich and diverse set of contemporary philosophers. All who want to have an informed view on traditional sexual ethics need to look at this work." Professor Alexander Pruss, Baylor University
"This splendidly and engagingly written book deserves wide attention and careful reading. It defends in an intelligent way - brilliantly debating views opposite to the author's own - a number of important and, I believe, very true theses about human sexuality and sexual ethics." Professor Josef Seifert, International Academy of Philosophy - Institute of Philosophy Edith Stein
Please take the time to listen to this interesting and valuable discussion which took place at the launch of the book this spring. The book is available for sale via Amazon or through SPUC (telephone 020 7091 7091).

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

We have a duty to face up to what's happening at the highest levels in the Catholic Church

Pro-life leaders and local activists need to face up to what's happening at the highest levels in the Catholic Church.

As Voice of the Family reported last week:
"A representative of the Holy See [Monsignor Jean-Marie Musivi Mupendawatu, secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers], in an intervention at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva last week, welcomed Sustainable Development Goal 3 and all its targets, despite target 7 calling for 'universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services.' These terms are defined as including abortion and contraception by many powerful governments and agencies ... " 
 ... These powerful governments and agencies include the Obama administration, the British government, the United Nations Population Fund, International Planned Parenthood Federation to name but a few.

The Voice of the Family report continued:
Mgr Mupendawatu made no reference to the statement of reservations issued by the Holy See delegation to the UN in New York after the approval of the SDGs by the UN in September 2015. In that statement the Holy See expressed some reservations regarding Goals 3.7 and 5.6, both of which refer to “sexual and reproductive health”. The text of the Holy See statement of reservations can be accessed here.
It might be argued that this was an isolated instance, a simple mistake as a result of inexperience, carelessness or human error. We are human. Mistakes happen. I accept that.

However, whether or not a most regrettable mistake was made, the fact is, as the Voice of the Family report points out: " ... there has been extensive collaboration between other Holy See bodies and powerful proponents of abortion, contraception and population control during the current pontificate, under the guise of promoting sustainable development". A selection of Voice of the Family’s commentary on this collaboration can be found below:
Pro-family Catholics disturbed after reports of Pope’s comments on contraception, 18 February 2016

Climate agreement welcomed by pope but pro-lifers concerned about language that promotes abortion, 22 December 2015

Cardinal Turkson: Pope Francis ‘has invited people to some form of birth control”, 10 December 2015

‘Sacrilege’: Catholic leaders react to Vatican’s climate change light show, 9 December 2015

Synod adopts alarming sociological approach in place of clear doctrine, 12 November 2015

Voice of the Family statement: Parents are the primary educators of their children, 15 October 2015

Synod fathers who compromise on contraception will be responsible for greater abortion, 6 October 2015

African families gravely threatened by western governments, international agencies and Vatican departments, 18 August 2015

Professor Schellnhuber: climate science and the population problem, 26 June 2015

Launch of new encyclical by head of Catholic agency accused of funding contraception shows urgent need for reaffirmation of Humanae Vitae, 19 June 2015

Voice of the Family statement on the encyclical letter Laudato Si, 18 June 2015

Any discussion on the environment must stem from understanding that the family is the key to sustainable development, 21 May 2015

Vatican endorsement of UN Sustainable Development Goals threatens unborn children, 29 April 2015

Leading global pro-abortion advocates speak at Vatican conference, 28 April 2015
Like many other pro-life activists, I personally have a right and a duty to speak out about what's happening at the highest levels in the Catholic Church:

I have worked at national and international level for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children for over four decades. In the 1990s, at United Nations conferences in Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing, Istanbul and Rome, at the invitation of the Holy See, I helped coordinate more than 150 pro-life/pro-family groups in a great united effort, under the clear moral leadership of Pope John Paul II, to stop the world's great powers from establishing in international law a right to abortion. Since 1994, SPUC has sent professional lobbyists to United Nations meetings in New York, Geneva and elsewhere, at the expense of our hardworking families throughout Britain who support our work, maintaining in co-operation with other pro-life groups of all faiths and none, the historic struggle against the "right" to abortion. Throughout that period SPUC's team has sought to maintain a close relationship with the Holy See delegation which is so critical in persuading delegates from supporting nations to support marriage, parents as the primary educators, and to oppose abortion.

In raising my concerns, of necessity sometimes publicly like today, I am fulfilling my duty as clearly laid out in the Code of Canon Law, which states:
“According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the Christian faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon 212 §3)
I do urge pro-life activists "with reverence" towards your pastors "and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons" to raise your concerns with your diocesan bishop and other relevant authorities in the Church about a situation which, I am advised, is unprecedented in the history of the Church. I believe that future generations will consider us answerable for our failure to do so. Whilst my appeal is primarily to fellow Catholics, I believe that everyone with concern for the common good has a duty to act.

We are arguably experiencing the greatest catastrophe in the history of humanity. At a conservative estimate, since 1966, around 2 billion babies, made in the image and likeness of God, have been killed by abortion worldwide according to leading researchers from both the pro-abortion and pro-life lobbies. Moreover, the number of human embryos destroyed in the past 50 years by abortifacient birth control drugs and devices worldwide is simply incalculable; and in the UK alone, 2 million embryonic babies have been killed as a result of in vitro fertilisation procedures since 1990, according to the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority; add to that the scores of other countries where IVF is practised and the number of human beings killed is once again incalculable.

Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of recorded human history range from 150 million to 1 billion. Even if the number were twice that higher figure, the last 50 years has witnessed the killing of more human beings through the “sexual and reproductive health” systems in our so-called civilised countries worldwide than in all the wars in recorded human history. In addition, during the past half century explicit sex education has destroyed the innocence of children, a sex education which provides children and adolescents with access to contraception and abortion. By removing parents as the primary educators of their children in the intimate area of human sexuality, powerful governments and the international birth control lobby funded by those powerful governments with our taxes, are establishing acceptance of contraception and abortion in the darkened hearts and consciences of future generations of adults.

Pro-life organizations, our families and the wider community need urgently to be reinforced by unequivocal, unyielding voices of Catholic Church officials and bishops throughout the world because the full Gospel message about the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life, teaching which is also part of the natural law written on all human hearts, is the most important weapon known to man against the culture of death. The intimate connection between the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life is nowhere more fully spelled out than in Catholic teaching – and all people of good will are capable of understanding that intimate connection.

This is not the time to be silent about what is happening at the highest levels in the Church.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

50 years ago today David Steel MP decided to introduce a Bill to legalise abortion in Britain

Lord Steel of Aikwood
Paul Lennon, SPUC's adviser on parliamentary affairs has reminded the Society this morning: "It is 50 years ago today that David Steel made the fateful decision to sponsor a Bill to make abortion more easily available".

In 2015, under Steel's tragic legislation, 509 babies were killed every single day in England and Wales alone.

Paul Lennon explains: "Having won third place in the Private Members’ ballot on 12 May, David Steel pondered on what Bill to introduce. He has said that he would initially have liked to have sponsored a Bill to create a Scottish Border development authority but the Government made it clear that they were opposed to this and Steel realised that it would have probably have been defeated on Second Reading.

"The pro-abortion Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, suggested to Steel that he might wish to consider introducing the Sexual Offences Bill (to legalise homosexuality in England and Wales), which had just passed the House of Lords, or a Bill on abortion. (See John Campbell's biography Roy Jenkins A Well-Rounded Life, page 294 [2014])

"Steel apparently decided to take abortion because the Sexual Offences Bill did not extend to Scotland. The Labour MP, Leo Abse would subsequently take up the Sexual Offences Bill as a Ten Minute Rule Bill in July.

"Today also marks the 50th anniversary of the Committee stage of the second of Lord Silkin’s two Bills to make abortion more easily available. The debate can be seen here.

"The anti-life Labour Peer, Lord Silkin – the Sponsor David Steel’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill when it arrived in the House of Lords – had introduced his own legislation to make abortion more easily available during the 1965-66 Session. His first Bill was introduced on 11 November 1965 and was debated on Second Reading on 30 November 1965. An attempt by pro-life Peers to kill the Bill on Second Reading was defeated by 70 votes to 8. The debate can be seen here.

"The first Bill had been introduced at the start of the 1965-66 Session. Although that Bill had completed its passage through the House of Lords, there was no Parliamentary time available for it to proceed further in the House of Commons because the 1966 General Election intervened.

"Following the election, Lord Silkin reintroduced the Bill on 26 April. It was given an unopposed Second Reading on 10 May 1966."

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the first pro-life group to be established anywhere in the world, began to be formed on 30th September 1966 when Elspeth Rhys-Williams (now Elspeth Chowdharay-Best) and Alan Smith (who remains a member of SPUC's Executive Committee and Council) had a letter published in The Church Times. They asked readers, wishing to oppose David Steel's abortion bill, to contact them at 47 Eaton Place, SW1, SPUC's first national address.

Both Elspeth and Alan will be attending the SPUC's 50th anniversary national conference from 23rd to 25th September 2016 in Derbyshire. Contact  if you are interested in attending and would like to receive full details.

Let's pray for David Steel today (now Lord Steel of Aikwood) and for the countless millions of victims of his Abortion Bill (mothers, fathers and children) which he made the decision 50 years ago today to introduce - as well as the victims of copycat abortion legislation subsequently introduced in so many countries worldwide.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Building a pro-life resistance movement

I am honoured to have been invited to address the Latin Mass Society's one day conference on the family next month on Saturday, 14th May, at Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London, W!C 2DJ - just five minutes from Oxford Circus underground station.

The title of my talk is Building a Pro-Life Resistance Movement.

It promises to be a very good day - including for non-members of the Latin Mass Society and non-Catholics - focusing on the unprecedented crisis on the intimately linked issues of the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family.

Dr Joseph Shaw, chairman of the LMS is speaking on Marriage and the Complementarity of the Sexes.

Other speakers include:
  • Edmund Adamus, director for Marriage and Family Life for the archdiocese of Westminster, speaking on Truth and Freedom - Twin Pillars of the Domestic Church
  • Father Serafino Lanzetta, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate speaking on The sacrament of Marriage as spousal love of Christ for his Church
  • and Prior Cassian Folsom OSB, founding prior of the The Benedictine Monks of Norcia, speaking on Pius Pater: Insights into family living from the Rule of St. Benedict.
Full conference information and booking details can be found here.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Please pray about next week's election in Northern Ireland as political atmosphere grows more hostile to unborn children

Maria Madise, SPUC's
international director, with Liam
Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland
development officer
Statistically an unborn baby in Northern Ireland is safer than anywhere else in the UK. SPUC's success, in union with our sister pro-life groups in Northern Ireland, in preventing the extension of the Abortion Act has meant that the law in Northern Ireland still provides a safeguard for the lives of unborn children as well as protecting women from the terrible damage which abortion can cause.

Two months ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected an attempt to make it lawful to abort children diagnosed with a life limiting condition by 59 votes to 40, and also voted 64 to 30 against an amendment which would have made it lawful to abort those said to have been conceived through criminal sexual activity. There is more unity in Northern Ireland on abortion between people of different faiths than in any other part of the world in which I’ve worked.

However, all of this is now under threat as never before. Please read Liam Gibson's message below to SPUC supporters in Northern Ireland spelling out the very immediate dangers to unborn children.
  • If you do not live in Northern Ireland and if you know no-one there - please play your part by praying every day in the run-up to next week's election, in nine days, on 5th May.
  • If you do live in Northern Ireland or know people there - please contact Liam Gibson at to find out what you can - and pray, of course, especially during the next 9 days.
Unborn lives depend on our prayers and action.

Liam writes:
It is no exaggeration to say that, in terms of the right to life of unborn children, this year’s election is probably the most important there has been since the Assembly was established. How you cast your vote could help to decide whether our unborn children will continue to be protected or if abortion will be introduced to Northern Ireland.

The political atmosphere in Northern Ireland is growing increasingly hostile to children before birth. In the last six months alone the attacks on the rights of unborn babies have been on an unprecedented level:

  • 30 November 2015, the Human Rights Commission convinced the High Court that our laws violate the European Convention on Human Rights
  • 10 February 2016 pro-abortion MLAs (Sinn Fein, Alliance and some Ulster Unionists) attempted to introduce legislation which would have led to widespread abortion
  • in April 2016 abortion advocates used the case of a woman from south Belfast who aborted her baby with drugs she bought online to pressure public authorities into ignoring DIY abortions

A group of civil servants currently examining the issue of legalising abortion for babies diagnosed before birth with a terminal illness will deliver a report to the health minister later this year. There are very serious concerns over the membership of this group. If, as seems likely, it recommends a change in the law then it will be crucial that there is a majority of solidly pro-life Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) committed to defending the lives of all children.

Sadly both the Sinn Fein and the Alliance parties are now solidly pro-abortion, as are an increasing number of the Ulster Unionists.

Next year sees the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the (British) Abortion Act 1967. In that time at least 8,400,000 babies in Britain have been killed before they could be born. Until now Northern Ireland has rejected every attempt to introduce similar legislation. The MLAs of the next Assembly will decide whether this continues to be the case.
Election time is the only occasion when politicians can’t ignore what the people have to say.

Please encourage your friends and families to vote only for candidates committed to protecting ALL unborn children, regardless of their disabilities or circumstances of conception.
If you cannot find a candidate you wish to vote for, then mark your ballot with a pro-life slogan, such as ‘Pro-Life Republican’ or ‘Pro-Life Alliance.’ Candidates will be shown spoilt ballots and will see the message
Please ask for prayers at your church for the safe delivery of all unborn babies, especially those in danger of abortion

Finally, on 5 May, please use your vote to speak up for those children who have no voice of their own.

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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Major pro-life speakers address one-day conference in Cheshire

Fiona Bruce MP
As SPUC approaches the 50th anniversary of its formation, I am delighted to report that we shall be holding a Regional Conference, entitled “Changing Minds - Saving Lives”, on Saturday April 16th at New Life Church West Road Congleton Chesire CW12 4EY (4EU for Satnav). The Conference, being hosted by SPUC’s Congleton branch, will open at 10 am and will be addressed by a line-up of knowledgeable and experienced speakers, comprising:

Fiona Bruce MP - the local Congleton MP and the current Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group. Mrs Bruce has been in the forefront of Parliamentary opposition to attempts to widen the abortion law and to introduce euthanasia in the UK. In relation to abortion Mrs Bruce has commented “Once you have enthroned choice, it becomes very difficult to criticise any particular exercise of that choice, even when the life that is being ended is unmistakably one of us.”

Rt Rev Mark Davies - Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury who, last year, hosted the visit to his Diocese of the relic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the international pro-life movement. Welcoming the visit of the image at Shrewsbury Cathedral, Bishop Davies said “We cannot regard any human life as inferior to our own whether we meet them in the helpless refugee, the unborn child or the abandoned elderly person.” He added that today’s culture of death was now threatening the lives of those considered to be a “financial burden” – the elderly and the sick – through assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Christine Fidler - Chief Executive of the Charity image Christian Counselling Service based in Manchester, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Image provides a free confidential helpline run by trained volunteers for those with problems related to pregnancy and those who need help after abortion or miscarriage. More information about Image can be found on their website at

Rhoslyn Thomas - SPUC Youth and Education Officer. Amongst many other activities Rhoslyn has been responsible for organising and running the last two extremely successful Youth Conferences as well as Pro-Life Chains for the past two years. Listen to how, having been involved in pro-life activities throughout her life, she is now working for SPUC to promote the intrinsic value of every human being.

The cost of the Conference, which will include a buffet lunch, is £10 (Students £5) and booking details can be obtained from Steve Hodgkinson at New Life Church West Road Congleton CW12 4EY tel. 01260 297961 email Booking beforehand is helpful for catering purposes and would be appreciated. Ample parking is available, but if coming to Congleton by train please notify in advance so that arrangements can be made to collect you from the station.

I encourage all who are within traveling distance of Congleton to make every effort to attend this Conference.

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Monday, 14 March 2016

Bishops' final Family Synod report undermines Catholic teaching on human life, marriage and family

Voice of the Family has published a comprehensive analysis on the final report of the Synod of Bishops on the family to the Holy Father, approved by the Ordinary Synod in October 2015.

Voice of the Family argues that the bishops' report undermines the teaching of the Catholic Church on matters relating to human life, marriage and the family. The report, Voice of the Family says, by striving to bring Catholic moral teaching into line with the norms prevailing in the modern world, pursues an approach that runs contrary to divine revelation and the natural moral law.

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Saturday, 20 February 2016

The appointment of Cardinal Nichols to head Vatican dicastery on laity family & life would endanger families worldwide

Voice of the Family noted recently reports from credible sources that Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, is being considered as a candidate to head a Vatican’s new dicastery, which will be responsible for Laity, Family and Life.

Voice of the Family further notes that:
"Cardinal Nichols’s approach to Catholic teaching on human sexuality has caused the pro-life, pro-family movement grave concern for many years. Serious questions have been raised about his approach to issues as diverse as abortion, contraception, the rights and status of the embryo, sex education, homosexual unions and the reception of Holy Communion for the 'divorced and remarried'."
The appointment of Cardinal Nichols to head a Vatican dicastery on the laity and family and life would endanger families worldwide. I invite visitors to my blog to consider the Voice of the Family's plea:
"Voice of the Family asks all our readers to pray that the Holy Father will appoint a courageous witness to Catholic teaching on life and the family to this new position. The family today is under sustained attack. The victims of this crisis – unborn children, the disabled, the elderly, children at risk from corrupting sex education, parents struggling to bring up their children according to the moral law – need a strong voice to speak on their behalf. This will not be provided by the appointment of a steadfast opponent of orthodox Catholic teaching."
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Friday, 19 February 2016

SPUC Pro-Life Youth Conference is a golden opportunity for young people

We are now exactly 3 weeks away from the first day of the 2016 International SPUC Youth Conference, which will take place in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (a 40 minute journey from central London) from the 11th to the 13th of March. This conference has been vital in educating, uniting and inspiring the pro-life youth of today to go out and be witnesses to the pro-life cause at university, school, at work and within their own families and amongst their friends.

The conference is a golden opportunity not only for young people to learn more about current pro-life issues, but also for them to network and socialise with other like-minded people. In this age, when so many fear vilification for valuing human life and the family, it is more important than ever that young pro-lifers keep in contact with one another and support each other’s work.

This year, we have another exciting line-up of speakers, including Bobby Schindler who is the Executive Director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network – the organisation dedicated to his sister, who was starved and dehydrated to death despite the valiant efforts of her family. Other speakers include Obianuju Ekeocha, who is making waves in Africa through her pro-life work in defence of Africa’s traditional pro-family and pro-life culture. To read a short biography of each speaker, please visit the SPUC blog:

You can book your place through visiting the SPUC website here: . If you, or someone you know, would like to attend the conference but cannot afford the price of a place, please contact Rhoslyn Thomas on for more information on sponsored places at the conference.

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Brave gender ideology opponent speaking in Westminster

I encourage you to attend the talk which will be given by Gabriele Kuby, hosted by the Westminster Diocese Office for Marriage and Family Life on 11 March, 2016*, entitled: "The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom"

Gabriele Kuby, who has said that her deepest motivation in life is the search for truth, has been the target of abuse for her brave work against ‘gender ideology’. She wasportrayed recently  in a play as a zombie who could only be killed with a bullet to the head. After the play’s premiere, in Kuby’s home country of Germany in a Berlin theatre, one of the other pro-family campaigners portrayed in the play had her car torched.

As pro-lifers, we should be very concerned about the rise in popularity of ‘gender ideology’. As Pope Emeritus Benedict said:
“…if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him”
Gabriele Kuby will also be speaking on the following day at our annual SPUC Youth Conference in Hoddesdon (11-13 March). To book your place at the conference, visit:

* The meeting takes place at Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street, SW1P 1QN at 6.30 pm on 11 March

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Friday, 12 February 2016

Congratulations John Deighan, SPUC Scotland's CEO, on becoming a Knight of St Gregory

John Deighan, SPUC Scotland's chief executive, my opposite number in Scotland, has been invested as a Knight of St Gregory by Bishop John Keenan, the bishop of Paisley.

Bishop Keenan, commenting on John's richly-deserved honour, referred to:
"his outstanding contribution to Church and society as Scottish Bishops' Parliamentary officer over fifteen years.
"Congratulations", Bishop Deighan said "to his wife Angela and all the Deighans".
Well-done John! Your courageous service of the common good and the Church makes us all proud.

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Thursday, 11 February 2016

"Devastating" pro-abortion legislation rejected by Northern Ireland Assembly

Liam Gibson, SPUC Northern
Ireland officer
It's good to share good news this morning with visitors to my blog:
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, the UK’s largest pro-life organisation has welcomed the defeat of moves to liberalise abortion law in Northern Ireland.
The Assembly rejected an attempt to make it lawful to abort children diagnosed with a life limiting condition by 59 votes to 40, and also voted 64 to 30 against an amendment which would have made it lawful to abort those said to have been conceived through criminal sexual activity.

"Effect would have been devastating"
Liam Gibson, SPUC's Northern Ireland development officer said:

"It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of this vote by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Had these proposals become law, their effect would have been devastating.

"Although they were presented as allowing abortion only for a limited number of so-called hard cases, in reality they were an attack on some of the most vulnerable of children and would have led to widespread abortion."

"Children deserve special protection"
Mr Gibson continued: "Experience around the world shows that this kind of proposal is only the thin end of the wedge, and that abortion activists seek to exploit any loophole in the law, to discredit pro-life laws and deny legal protection to all unborn children. Their aim is to erect a false 'right to abortion' in law.

"International law recognises that all members of the human family share the right to life, and that children deserve special protection, including legal protection before as well as after birth.‎ This vote is a clear rejection of the idea that some children are less worthy of the protection of the law."
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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Canadian doctor's chilling first encounter with physicians who kill their patients

Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has published an article describing the chilling moment when Dr Diane Kelsall (right), deputy editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, first encountered (in 1993) fellow health professionals, at a medical conference, attended by Queen Beatrix, in The Hague, who were explaining how to kill patients.

"Numerous attendees filed out of the session in silence, clutching handouts that described euthanasia protocols:

Administer this. If the patient is still breathing, administer that. If the patient’s heart is still beating, do this.
We stood in small groups, hardly able to grasp what we were reading. This was so contrary to everything we had been taught and everything we believed. How could physicians have crossed this line? When did “above all do no harm” turn into an algorithm for death?"

Twenty-plus years later, Dr Kelsall is chilled once again when she receives similar advice from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

In celebration of Margaret Cuthill, leading UK witness to the harm of abortion

Margaret Cuthill celebrates retirement
Last Friday evening, on the occasion of her retirement, we celebrated Margaret Cuthill's inspirational leadership for a quarter of a century of ARCH, Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline formerly known as British Victims of Abortion funded and administered by the SPUC Education and Research Trust. Margaret's counselling, her unforgettable witness as a post-abortion speaker, has helped to heal countless mothers following an abortion and has saved the babies of countless mothers-to-be.

I was honoured to pay tribute to Margaret's work during our celebration dinner - in these words:

In the heat and in the hurry of SPUC’s educational and political campaigning on behalf of unborn children and their mothers – it’s been deeply comforting to me and to my colleagues in the Society that the work of ARCH – Abortion, Recovery, Care and Helpline, funded and staffed by the SPUC Education and Research Trust for three decades – has been quietly active, reaching out to women suffering after an abortion, and helping mothers in crisis pregnancies to avoid abortion.

Bob Edwards, Chairman of SPUC Education
and Research Trust, talks to Sister Andrea Fraile
of Glasgow-based Sisters of the Gospel of Life. Across
the table is John Deighan, SPUC Scotland director
ARCH has been there, doing this great work, originally under the title British Victims of Abortion, for thirty years. And Margaret, whom we are honouring this evening on the occasion of her retirement, has been absolutely central to this work, leading and inspiring it throughout the UK from the office here in Glasgow, shared with our colleagues in SPUC Scotland, in so many ways, for 25 of those years.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s London-based general secretary, who started work for SPUC 35 years ago, provides a perspective from a distance on the quality and quiet effectiveness of Margaret’s work in these few comments that he sent me today:
"I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to work closely with Margaret apart from referring people to her for help – whether for post-abortion counselling or support during pregnancy - but I do recall her moving contributions to a number of conferences, public witnesses, training sessions, etc, where she spoke of her experience of abortion and the survival of her daughter. Her simple, unostentatious honesty about the situation she found herself in and the harm of abortion were deeply impressive. Her work supporting other post-abortive women has been mostly unseen and unsung of course, but it is surely none-the-less appreciated by the many hundreds of women she has met with or spoken to over the years.”
And Katherine Hampton, who’s worked for the Society for 22 years, said to me today:
“My abiding memory of Margaret will always be the student lecture tour we did together back in 1995 – with speaking engagements from Dundee to Dover. As well as the school and university talks Margaret undertook on this tour, there were also local radio interviews that she did so well. It was her ability to keep telling her own personal story over and over again that particularly impressed me. I think that by the end of the tour I knew her story off by heart!”
Margaret’s courage and self-sacrifice in telling and retelling her powerful personal history and testimony regarding abortions must have saved countless lives, and given new hope and a sense of belief and self-confidence to countless women and men – either to recover and to begin again after an abortion, or to continue with a pregnancy or to give support to a mother-to-be. What Paul calls Margaret’s “deeply impressive unostentatious honesty” has saved lives and, I believe, through Margaret’s work in the media and in other significant public forums, has changed the nature of the abortion debate in Britain.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications director, has been telling me about the significant media impact and coverage Margaret has achieved over the years conveying to the public the true nature of abortion and its damaging impact on mothers – for example, in The Independent on Sunday in 1993, on Sky TV in 1996, on the BBC in 2005, in The Scotsman in 2006, in the Sun in 2009, in the Telegraph in 2015 and in The Herald and in 2016 – and on countless other occasions in the print and broadcast media.

Anthony has sent this message to our celebration of Margaret’s work this evening:
“In the abortion debate in the media, there is often a clash of absolutes: between the right to life of the unborn child and the woman's right to choose. While it is good and proper for this clash to take place, it often seems to result in people remaining in entrenched positions. Margaret's compelling testimony and personal insight has the power to move hearts even when heads remain in the sand. No biased interviewer, no aggressive opponent and no irate caller can say credibly to Margaret: 'you were not there when you had the abortion'; 'your pain was not real', 'the women you've cared for don't exist'. Margaret's voice will be greatly missed."
Beneath the simplicity of Margaret’s quiet witness, everyone listening can sense a depth of experience and understanding which changes the listener. In my view, the listener undergoes a kind of conversion experience as Margaret tells us the full truth about abortion and its consequences. And like all great speakers, she knows when to burst into oratory, like at the press relaunch of British Victims of Abortion under its new name of ARCH five years ago. Margaret said that women were "tortured and tormented" by abortion. Quoting Shakespeare's Richard II, she conveyed the sorrow of abortion in these words:
“My grief lies all within, And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief That swells with silence in the tortured soul”
Two beautiful sisters, Marion, left, and Margaret Cuthill, right, met in Glasgow 5 years ago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Margaret's working as a post-abortion counsellor.

I was privileged to pay tribute to Margaret at the Glasgow celebration of her great work. This is what I said then – and I’ve no reason to change a word of it 5 years later:
“For me, Margaret embodies what the pro-life movement is all about. Quite apart from her daily counselling, Margaret has devoted her life to giving a courageous, powerful, personal witness concerning her own abortions. She's the most moving speaker on abortion I've ever heard, with her simple, understated witness. Again and again, over the years, her personal witness has helped to change the nature of the abortion debate in the UK, humanizing it, removing it from the level of confrontation, and introducing people, instead, to the truth. She certainly fulfils Pope John Paul II's prophetic address, in Evangelium Vitae, to women who've had an abortion: “With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life.” (EV, 99)
I love you Margaret, for what you have done for unborn children and their mothers. On behalf of so many people you've helped and inspired, thank you.

In closing this blogpost, on behalf of my fellow trustees on the SPUC Education and Research Trust, I also thank SPUC Scotland whose office has been shared by Margaret and her team this past 25 years. The SPUC Scotland team and its leadership (Linda Porter, followed by Ian Murray, followed by Donna Nicholson and now John Deighan) have given invaluable love and support and critical support and guidance to the ARCH team, critically assisting its vital compassionate outreach, for a quarter of a century. 

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Dutch ethics professor changes his mind on legalised euthanasia

Fr John Fleming and Alison, his wife
The Catholic Medical Quarterly has carried an important article by Theo Boer, a professor of health care ethics at Kampden Theological University. I am grateful to Fr John Fleming PhD, SPUC's bioethics consultant and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, for the following analysis and review:

In a remarkable volte face, Theo Boer, a former supporter of legalised euthanasia in the Netherlands, has changed his mind about legalised euthanasia.
For years I supported the Dutch law on assisted dying. But as we speak, I have more concerns now than ever before. I am worried that the liberty of some may lead to a loss of freedom of others.(1)
Theo Boer is the Lindeboom Professor of Health Care Ethics at Kampden Theological University.(2) In 2005 he was appointed to one of the five “regional review committees” established by the Dutch government to assess, after the event, whether reported cases of euthanasia were in accordance with the law. If cases meet all legal criteria the “dossier will be closed”. If not the matter is referred to the public prosecutor and the Health inspector general and prosecution may follow.

Why, then, did this prestigious scholar and public servant change his mind about legalised euthanasia or legalised “assisted dying” as they call it in the Netherlands? Professor Boer provides four major concerns that he has about the law as it is practised daily in the Netherlands.
1. The “slippery slope”
Professor Boer originally believed that there did not have to be a slippery slope where euthanasia is concerned. That, at any rate, was the view he still held in 2007. After all euthanasia had been practised under the present law for five years and the level of assisted dying had remained the same. Moreover, he said, there had been significant improvement in the quality of palliative care in that time.

However, the situation has changed dramatically over the last eight years. Since 2007 the number of assisted deaths has increased 15% annually. In 2003 there were under 2,000 cases of euthanasia. By 2014 “the figures were well above the 5,000 line”.(3)

Professor Boer has drawn the conclusion that “what was once considered a last resort, now becomes a default mode of dying for an increasing number of people”. (4) In fact unbearable suffering is now seen less in terms of physical terms but more in terms of ‘meaningless waiting’.

2. Change in categories of patient receiving euthanasia
Over the years in which he has reviewed cases the types of patient receiving euthanasia have changed markedly. In the early years of the law there were, Boer says, “hardly any patients with psychiatric illness or dementia”. However, in the last 500 cases he reviewed 50 had loneliness as a criterion, and others had more age related complaints. Many of these patients, he said, could have lived “for months, others for years or even decades”.(5)

Professor Boer also drew attention to the new situation of “euthanasia for two”. He gives an example where the caregiver now gets cancer and the one he has been caring for chooses to die on the same day. Other new developments included “euthanasia for blindness”, “euthanasia for autism”, and even “assisted dying for a mother of two suffering from tinnitus”.(6)
Boer concludes that assisted dying for one group of patients leads to demands for similar treatment from other groups.

3. Have euthanasia will travel
2012 saw the introduction of a nationwide network of travelling euthanasia teams known as end of Life Clinics. These doctors only do the administration of lethal drugs. There is no patient-doctor relationship. Either the patient gets euthanasia or he is sent home empty handed.

4. Shift in public opinion
The existence and implementation of the euthanasia law has modified public opinion. Increasingly people demand euthanasia as a ‘right’. In fact, Boer says, there is “a law that is now in the making [which] obliges doctors who refuse to actively refer their patients to a ‘willing’ colleague.”(7) Boer refers to a survey of doctors carried out by the Royal Dutch Medical Association which shows that doctors find euthanasia a heavy burden. Fuelled by the advocacy of thirty documentary films on this subject, the public increasingly sees only the positive aspects of euthanasia. Add to that the “unknown, but considerable number of patients” who “consider their suffering too big of a burden for their relatives and ask to die of concern for their wellbeing”.(8) In that sense he is referring to patients feeling they now have a “duty to die”.

From these four concerns Professor Boer draws this conclusion:
Dutch and Belgian laws on assisted dying, instead of being a respectful compromise, much rather function as stepping stones towards more radical changes in the way we organise our deaths.(9)
While the offer of assisted dying may be a relief to some, he says, it is purchased at the expense of signalling others that they should ask for euthanasia out of concern for their loved ones, not themselves. In short it conveys the message that death is a good remedy for suffering, and not just physical suffering, and not just the patient’s suffering.

A society’s signal that it is willing to organize the death for its citizens simply involves too many risks.(10)

Perhaps the only weakness in this important paper is the ethical reasoning proposed by Professor Boer which might justify euthanasia. His argument relies upon an analogy which involves a rather forced and unlikely scenario. A truck has crashed into a wall. The driver, still alive, may soon be engulfed in flames. He notices a bystander carrying a gun and begs the bystander to shoot him before the flames get to him.

This, of course, is the old force majeure argument, the invocation of which at law in the Dutch courts first permitted euthanasia. That is, there is nothing else to be done but put the man out of his misery. In the cases of Postma (1973) and Schoonheid (1984), judges exempted the doctors concerned from punishment on the basis that the euthanasia they carried out had to be done because there was nothing else that could be done to prevent unbearable suffering in the patient. In the case of the truck driver, Boer suggests that the bystander might be excused from punishment if he shot the driver to prevent him being burnt to death. This would mean that killing the innocent may be morally justified in such circumstances. Boer seems to acknowledge the difficulty in which this would place the armed bystander, but nowhere does he really say that such intentional killing violates the inviolable and inalienable right to life of the truck driver even if the driver should beg to be killed.

To get over this, Boer then develops the analogy further. It seems the bystander now has two guns, one to shoot to kill, the other which shoots anaesthetics. Should he use the anaesthetic in the hope that help will arrive just in time to save the driver? People prefer not to be killers, so the second option is the more inviting.

But as an analogy it fails at every point. The patient (the suffering one) is not about to be enveloped by pain. Good palliative care is available. And in the case of a dying patient no cure is in fact going to be available before inevitable death takes hold.

The real issues with euthanasia in Western societies are these: the act of killing an innocent person even with the patient’s consent is never morally licit, good palliative care is available and can be used to make a patient reasonably comfortable as the patient faces death, and that allowing exceptions to the rule prohibiting the killing of the innocent will inevitably give rise to precisely the problems that the Dutch now face where legalised euthanasia is concerned. And legalising euthanasia in the Netherlands, itself preceded by a raft of court judgments based on faulty ethical reasoning, and on the basis of the same faulty ethical reasoning, has produced far more problems than it has solved. And not least among these has been the guilty consciences (what the Royal Dutch Society euphemistically calls a “heavy burden”(11)) of euthanizing doctors who now face the possibility of even heavier burdens as people not only demand a right to their killing services for a wider variety of cases, but also demand that if a doctor doesn’t want to perform euthanasia he will be legally required to refer to a doctor who will, thus forcing all doctors to be morally complicit in these killings.

(1)  Theo Boer, “Dutch Experiences on Regulating Assisted Dying”, Catholic Medical Quarterly, 65(4), November 2015, 25
(2) “The Theological University in Kampen is the theological seminary of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (liberated). It functions as an academic, theological institution that operates from a Reformed faith perspective and in service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Vid.
(3) Theo Boer, “Dutch Experiences on Regulating Assisted Dying”, Catholic Medical Quarterly, 65(4), November 2015, 25
(4) Ibid
(5) Ibid
(6) Ibid
(7) Ibid
(8) Ibid
(9) Ibid 26
(10) Ibid
(11) Ibid 25

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