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Monday, March 29, 2010

Abortion in Ireland - Pro Life Submissions far outnumber opposing side in public consultations

For a number of years now Government backed bodies have sought public submissions on life-related issues hoping to boost their claim that their recommendations are in line with public demand.     The public have responded in massive numbers, and encouragingly, the majority of submissions have been pro-life, with most people wanting human life in its most vulnerable stages protected by law, matching the findings of professional polls commissioned yearly by the Pro-Life Campaign.
However, it's been disturbing how often the recommendations of these bodies have gone the opposite way, raising the question how come the government who appoints most members of these bodies picks people unrepresentative of the majority view in the general public?

It points to a need for democratic oversight of such appointments to clarify why people with views differing sharply from the majority are appointed more often than those who share the commonly held pro-life views.

And in the run up to legislation in relation to frozen embryos the pattern has been repeated in the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and the Irish Council for Bioethics.

For example, in the report of the Irish Council for Bioethics published in 2008, Council members were unanimous, 13 to 0, in recommending allowing that human embryos to be destroyed to extract stem cells for research, but 77% of the members of the public who responded to their question on this issue took the opposite view*

Another recent example of a preponderance of public submissions being pro-life now seems to have been the Medical Council’s advertising for public submissions in its preparations for the seventh edition of its Ethical Guide.  Recently, in preparing an article for the Irish Medical Times, Dara Gantly discovered that the Council received “more than 6,500 submissions from members of the public”, “the overwhelming majority” of which were pro-life. You can read this article which includes some analysis of the Pro Life Campaign’s submission here.

In the run up to the publication of government proposals following R v. R, it is politically significant that the preponderance of pro-life submissions mirrors Pro-Life Campaign poll findings that most people support Dáil legislation to protect human embryos.

Or to look at it the other way round, the fact that the majority of submissions match what the majority of the general public think bespeaks a political energy and organisational commitment in the pro-life community likely to translate into a political dividend for election candidates supporting legislation protecting embryos and a political cost for those who don’t.

* Ethical Scientific and Legal Issues Concerning Stem Cell Research: Opinion (2008), (p. 94)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Philip Nitschke's Creepy Career

Dr Philip Nitschke was in Dublin last week to run a workshop on assisted suicide. He felt it was worth his while because he reckoned about 20 people wanted to hear him.

He first came to public attention in Australia when, on 25th May 1995, a law was passed enacted in Australia's Northern Territory allowing assisted suicide, partly as a result of Nitschke's campaigning for it. The Federal Parliament overturned this law in March 1997 by a knife-edge vote in the Senate, with 38 against assisted suicide being legalized and 33 for. In the brief period the law was in force, however, Nitschke helped four people to kill themselves.

Nitschke's subsequent career makes for creepy reading. Before his promised return trip to Ireland, possibly later this year, it is important to take a closer look at the euthanasia debate and the arguments that helped turn the assisted suicide legislation in Australia on its head.

Humanist and founder and director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit, Nitschke's ghoulish death gadgets and projects are a death-bag, best used together with their death-inhaler device, a death-machine, a death-drug testing-kit, a death-tent, a death-pill - and even a death-ship to provide off-shore facilities!

What is inspiring about the overturning of Philip Nitschke's law in the Northern Territory, by the edge of the seat majority of 5 votes, is the role played in that Senate decision by a talk and a submission given by Luke Gormally of the British pro-life Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics. The Linacre Centre comments: "several Senators said they had been influenced to change their minds and oppose the legalisation of euthanasia by a talk given in 1995 by Luke Gormally at the John Plunkett Centre in Sydney, which the Centre subsequently published and distributed widely". He also made a Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee, which reported on the issue of legalisation prior to the Senate vote.

Gormally's talk, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Seven Reasons Why They Should Not Be Legalized, is a model of calm clear responsible reasoning based on human equality and justice. If reading the list of Nitschke's projects gives you the shivers, then you may want to take a few moments to follow Luke Gormally as he sets out step by step the case for respect for human life and for rejecting calls for euthanasia or assisted suicide. 

You can access Luke Gormally's talk  here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Visit by euthanasia campaigner Dr. Philip Nitschke a 'publicity stunt' devoid of concern for the most vulnerable in society

19th March 2010

The Pro-Life Campaign has described today’s visit to Dublin of Australian euthanasia campaigner, Dr Philip Nitschke, as a publicity stunt that has the potential to cause distress to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Commenting on his proposed visit, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign said:

"Dr Philip Nitschke’s message, ‘talking up’ the acceptability and desirability of assisting people to end their lives is the antithesis of social solidarity and there is a very real danger that the effect of his propagandising will cause distress to some of the most vulnerable members of our society".

"Dr Nitschke’s visit is first and foremost a publicity stunt. No doubt he also sees himself as some sort of human rights advocate. However he doesn’t seem the slightest bit bothered about the pressure he is placing on vulnerable people to end their lives".

"As a society, we have a duty to reassure vulnerable groups in society that we are totally opposed to euthanasia and cherish the dignity and worth of every human life", Dr. Cullen concluded.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stories of Loss and Love: The shocking truth about China’s treatment of baby girls

The book Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love* by Xinran eloquently and poignantly tells individual stories and uses them to explain the traditional cultural and modern ideological and consumerist forces behind the abortion and killing at birth of girls, and why they are also given away or allowed to die through neglect.

Chapter 3, for example, tells how, when Xinran’s bike got a puncture, she brought it to a woman who ran a small bike repair shop near the radio station in Nanjing where she presented the Words on a Night Breeze programme on women’s issues. They got talking.

The woman told her that before she opened the bike repair shop she had worked as a travelling midwife. Her rate varied for different kinds of birth. For a boy who was a firstborn “I could quote three times the normal rate for that. If the mother was the wife of the eldest son, the birth was very auspicious because it continued the family line, and then it was six times.” And what if it was a girl and the family didn’t want a girl? ‘”If they wanted it put out of the way, you charged sky high”.

Xinran asked her how she killed the girls and the midwife listed three different ways, and then said, ‘”And for women who’d never had a baby boy, just girl after girl after girl until the family were fed up with it, it was simple enough to chuck it in the slops pail”.

Over ten chapters each focusing on different situations where a baby girl was not wanted, Xinran lets us see and feel what it is like to be a woman in China subject to the immense cultural, legal, bureaucratic and ideological pressures that combine to force pregnant women to have their girls aborted, destroyed at birth or neglected or given away.

Any pro-life person who wants to get a feel for the causes of the pressures behind the 100 million missing baby girls needs to read Xinran’s Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother.

* Xinran, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love, Chatto and Windus, 2010, London.

Pro Life Campaign and Family and Life host Stem Cell Experts in Dublin

In an important visit to Ireland, co-hosted by the Pro-Life Campaign and Family and Life, Professor Robert George of Princeton University and Professor William Hurlbut of Stanford University were in Dublin last week meeting with politicians, academics and pro-life supporters to discuss the need for protection of human life at its earliest stages of development and to make the case for ethical stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of human embryos

Professors George and Hurlbut met with members of the Dáil and Seanad and addressed academics and students in the Royal College of Surgeons, DCU and UCD. On Friday evening, they addressed several hundred pro-life supporters in the Davenport Hotel where they outlined to the audience the scientific and philosophical arguments underpinning a respect for human lives from the moment of fertilisation. Professor William Hurlbut , a professor in Human Biology at Stanford University explained the application and potential of adult stem cells in particular the procedure by which pluripotent stem cells (adult stem cells with the capacity to differentiate into different germ layers) can be used in a way that emulates embryonic stem cells. The significance of this is that no embryonic human being need be used for research and at present non-controversial adult stem cell research is having more success at treating diseases. Professor Robert George who is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University picked through the popular arguments used to de-humanise the embryonic human being and explained why the embryonic human life is deserving of full protection of society and the law. The event was chaired by Senator Rónán Mullen.

The three-day visit of the Professors to Ireland was a great success and Professor George was interviewed on Today with Pat Kenny on the morning of Friday 5th March. You can listen to his interview here

Gendercide: The Economist’s cover story on the forced killing of baby girls in China

The current issue of The Economist shows how the personal tragedies of women forced to abort girls, have them destroyed at birth, or let die through neglect, are leading to catastrophic social situations in China. The mass destruction of girls has left a systemic gender imbalance in the population where there are more unmarried young men in China than the entire population of young men in America.

The Economist, as its name suggests, looks at the world through the unsentimental lens of economic realities. It specialises in taking a hard look at the facts and figures that are newsworthy. This makes the cover story on its 6th March 2010 issue, all the more astonishing.

On a full-page funeral-black front cover is a pink pair of baby girl’s shoes and over them in huge pink letters a single-word banner headline, GENDERCIDE* and under that a subheading asking What happened to 100 million baby girls? There is a full-page editorial, again headed Gendercide, and the story runs over 4 full pages and a long review of a new book on the same phenomenon. It’s must-read stuff.

The Economist supports legal abortion. But there is something new. It now acknowledges, that ‘the cumulative consequence of such individual actions is catastrophic’, describing the results as 'carnage’.

It’s a breakthrough article for the pro-life community, mainstreaming information and analysis that has been available for 20 years. The 100 million missing baby girls of The Economist’s front-page comes from an article** by Indian economist, Amarta Sen who won the 1998 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on welfare economics.

So what happened to this unimaginably large number of baby girls? The subheading of the editorial sums it up, ‘Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared – and the number is rising’. They were killed by their parents, or given away by them, or died through selective neglect by their parents, especially the mothers under crushing pressure from the traditions and ideologies of their families and local and national communities.

The lethal cultural bias against girls is concentrated primarily in China but also in India, Taiwan and Singapore, in South Korea until the 1990s, in some ex-communist countries and also seems to be reflected in the gender imbalance among Chinese-Americans and Japanese-Americans.

The huge numbers are due to the mutual reinforcement of false and dysfunctional traditional disvalues and modern ideological disvalues, both communist and those of the emerging middle classes. China’s one-child policy, The Economist says, ‘profoundly perverts family life’.

The harrowing effect on the mothers themselves surfaces in China’s shameful suicide rate for women. The Economist article notes China’s female suicide rates are among the world’s worst. ‘Suicide is the commonest form of death among Chinese rural women aged 15-34; young mothers kill themselves by drinking agricultural fertilizers which are easy to come by. The journalist Xinran Xue thinks they cannot live with the knowledge that they have aborted or killed their baby daughters.’

Every pro-life person needs to study this article and the accompanying editorial. You can read The Economist headline article here

* The dramatic word ‘gendercide’ is from Mary Anne Warren’s 1985 book, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection.

** Amarta Sen, ‘More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing’, The New York Review of Books, (Vol. 37, No. 20, 20th December 1990; http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/gender/Sen100M.html, accessed 11th March 2010)


Marie Stopes - yet another misleading abortion poll in Ireland

When it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Abortion-provider Marie Stopes’ YouGov poll on abortion, released earlier this week, scored high on quackery.

If you ask a loaded question, you get a loaded and so worthless answer. Loaded with what? Loaded with false presuppositions that are never spelt out to the respondent.

The latest Marie Stopes poll claims three quarters of the Irish public support abortion in certain circumstances. The poll makes no distinction between necessary medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion, where the life of the unborn baby is directly targeted.

When a poll asks misleading questions, the answers measure how far the questioner has misled the respondents. If your question implies that women’s lives and health are at risk because abortion is not available, then you are inviting the answer, ‘Of course, abortion should be available to save those women’s lives.’ But that’s a loaded question. It is loaded with a false presupposition.

The truth is that Ireland is the safest country on planet earth for a woman having a baby. We have the best, the best, maternal safety for the lives of mothers having babies in the world.

Opinion polls are supposed to be snapshots of public opinion not tools of ideological propaganda. When the public are asked straightforward not misleading questions on abortion the answer is overwhelmingly pro-life. In a 2009 IMS/Millward Brown poll commissioned by the Pro-Life Campaign, 63% of the public supported a prohibition on abortion while ensuring the continuation of existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life. Only 16% said they were opposed to such a prohibition on abortion.

The pro-life community needs to understand what Marie Stopes and similar abortion advocacy groups are working at. The fact that their polls are misleading doesn’t seem to bother them. The fact also that a sizable chunk of the media is prepared to run with these type of polls without asking the tough questions makes it easier for Marie Stopes and others to create a public expectation that abortion legislation is inevitable. This highlights the necessity for groups like the Pro-Life Campaign to avail of every opportunity to set the record straight with the public.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Everyone must play their part to ensure we achieve legislation to protect human embryos in Ireland

A massive international propaganda machine is already campaigning effectively for legislation to allow research involving the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

In Ireland, two State-supported bodies have already issued reports supporting the deliberate destruction of human embryos, the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction and the Irish Council for Bioethics.

At EU-level the replacement of animal testing with testing of pharmaceutical products on human embryos has already been discussed.

In 1983, the Irish people voted in a referendum for Article 40.3.3 to protect the unborn but in 2009 the Supreme Court ruled that frozen human embryos in IVF clinics are not ‘unborn’. So the same embryo whose right to life is protected under our Constitution in the womb can be deliberately destroyed the day before in the clinic because, the Supreme Court has decided, its right to life is not protected as long as it is in a clinic or laboratory.

What’s to be done, then, now that the Supreme Court has decided that there is no legal protection for the right to life of human embryos in laboratories and clinics? It’s not rocket science – we have to bring in legislation to protect them. This is quite literally a matter of life and death so we need to impress on our politicians that for us, democracy means equality for all, even human beings in the first days of their lives who find themselves in clinics or laboratories through no choice of theirs. We need to inform our elected representatives as well that we will use or withhold our vote in the next election depending on the stances of individual parties and candidates regarding protection for early human life.

To view the Pro-Life Campaign press release on the R v R decision, click here

Medical care not abortion improves maternal mortality rates in developing countries

Since the late 1960s deaths of mothers having children have fallen dramatically -- “current rates for developed countries are between one-fortieth and one-fiftieth of the rates that prevailed 60 years ago”, a peer reviewed article by Irvine Loudon published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.[1]

What brought about this ‘dramatic’ improvement in the safety of mothers in pregnancy and birth? Was it permissive abortion laws? Loudon’s survey of the relevant factors concludes, “The main factors that led to thisdecline seem to have been successive improvements in maternalcare rather than higher standards of living.”

This suggests that the way to improve safety for mothers and their children during pregnancy and birth is not the introduction of permissive abortion laws, but improving the availability and quality of care and education for mothers having children.

This is confirmed by preliminary findings presented by Chilean epidemiologist, Dr Elard Koch, of the University of Chile faculty of medicine. He was addressing the inaugural meeting of the International Group for Global Women’s Health Research in Washington DC last month.[2]

Maternal mortality in Chile fell from 275 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1960 to 18.7 in 2000, the largest fall in any Latin American country. What caused this dramatic improvement?

Dr Koch said, ‘From 1960 onwards, there has been a breakthrough in the public health system and primary care’ in Chile. Resources, he added, were put into the development of ‘highly trained personnel, the construction of many primary health centres and the increase of schooling of the population.’

Chile protects unborn life in its constitution and laws - the improvement in maternal safety was not brought about by legalising abortion.

In Latin America, Chile which has pro-life legislation also has the lowest maternal mortality rate, while Guyana which brought in more liberal abortion laws in the mid-1990s putatively because of high maternal mortality rates, has the highest maternal rates, suggesting that they are applying the wrong solution to the problem, wider abortion instead of improving maternal care and education.

While International Planned Parenthood, the international abortion advocacy multinational, recently noted ‘a huge surge in maternal deaths’ in South Africa between 2007 and 2007 .[3]

They quoted the South African Report, ‘Saving Mothers 2005 – 2007’ which accepted a 20% increase in maternal deaths over the period, and acknowledged that nearly 4 out of every 10 of these deaths ‘were clearly avoidable within the health care system’.

Also mentioned in the report are ‘deaths due to complications of abortion’. South Africa has a permissive abortion legislation so it is not unreasonable to see in here a wrong solution becoming part of the problem.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the way to improve maternal mortality rates in developing countries is to improve the availability and quality of maternal care and education, and that legalising abortion in developing countries is part of the problem not part of the solution.

[1] Maternal mortality in the past and its relevance to developing countries today’ American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 72, No. 1, 241S-246s, July 2000
[2] Friday Fax, the C-Fam Institute, Vol. 13, No. 9, 11th February 2010, http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1571/pub_detail.asp, accessed on 23rd February 2010.)
[3] http://www.ippf.org/en/News/Intl+news/South+Africa+Huge+surge+in+maternal+deaths.htm

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Project shows abortion as part of the history of racial oppression

The Endangered Species Project is a bold new multi-media campaign launched last week in the US State of Georgia to raise public awareness about the way groups like Planned Parenthood disproportionately target African American communities when locating their abortion clinics. The new project involves high profile media events, political lobbying and advertising - including a striking billboard campaign throughout the State. The project is a collaborative effort between the Radiance Foundation, an educational group that uses the media to illuminate the intrinsic value of each person, and Georgia's Operation Outrage.

It is mainly the brainchild of Radiance Foundation Director Ryan Bomberger, himself born as a result of rape. He hopes the project will make fellow African Americans much more conscious of the fact that the abortion industry specifically targets their communities.

Using well-documented statistics, historical perspectives, highly effective videos and personal testimonies, the Endangered Species Project brings home to African-Americans the shockingly disproportionate impact of abortion on Black neighbourhoods. The initiative is causing quite a stir in the US and putting abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood on the defensive. It's about time too!

The figures are shocking indeed

•Nearly 40% of all black pregnancies in the US end in induced abortion.

•That’s over three times the rate for white women

•And twice the rate of all other races combined.

•Since 1973 more than fourteen million black babies have died by abortion in the US.

The word ‘project’ in the name the Endangered Species Project echoes the name of the infamous Negro Project established by Planned Parenthood founder and eugenicist, Margaret Sanger in 1939. The aim of Sanger’s vile Negro Project was to ensure that poor black families were not reproducing. As she herself shamefully stated: “…we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.”  –Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization, Chapter 8, p. 187.

Needless to say abortion advocacy groups are attacking the Endangered Species Project fearing it will lead African American women especially, to reject their claim that access to abortion is part of ‘reproductive justice’. Thankfully, the initiative is causing quite a stir in the US and the shocking facts it reveals is putting pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood on the defensive despite their protests.

Endangered Species Project billboards click here

90 second video of Ryan Bomberger’s life story here

The Negro Project and Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, click here