Wednesday, 23 May 2012

SPUC hosts Maternal Health Conference

On 20 March, Bristol Students for Life’s outgoing President, Eve Farren, and outgoing Publicity Officer, Rhoslyn Thomas, attended the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s (SPUC) Maternal Health conference in Oxford Street, central London. BSFL (Bristol Students For Life) attended hoping to learn more about the challenges that mothers and babies face in countries around the world, where these challenges are most common and what is being done to tackle them: Eve and Rhoslyn were not disappointed. The conference was well attended: a range of people including medical professionals, bioethicists, religious figures, students from other universities and concerned members of the general pro-life community were there and the conference featured an excellent line-up of speakers. 

The first speaker was to be the much loved and respected pro-life Feminist and supporter of BSFL, Fiorella Nash. Unfortunately, Mrs Nash was unwell that day and could not attend, but her excellent talk was read out nevertheless. Mrs Nash spoke of her experience of superb maternal healthcare in the UK, which literally saved her life, as well as that of her son who was delivered by caesarean section following a lengthy obstructed labour. She lamented the poor and often non-existent level of maternal healthcare which is present in many countries, a reprehensible state of affairs given that all the equipment and knowledge already exists to prevent maternal deaths. Staff at a hospital in Sierra Leone, she said, for want of a footbridge during the rainy season, were unable to help as they watched women die on the other side of the river. An argument often used by pro-abortion groups is that if only there was more abortion, there would be fewer maternal deaths. Mrs Nash, however, pointed out that Ireland an d Malta, where abortion is illegal, are two of the safest countries in the world for a woman to give birth. A coincidence? 

Also speaking at the conference was Dr. Roger Kiska, senior legal counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). Dr. Kiska, who works in Vienna, spoke of the legal battle against the establishment of a ‘right’ to abortion in international law. At present, no such right exists and no UN treaty makes abortion an international human right. However, there is increasing pressure from the UN on countries to legalise abortion and to make it a ‘right’, including UN compliance body meetings to decide on ‘punishments’ for those countries who are still in defiance of the pro-abortion position. Steps are being taken by many pro-life legal figures to block these bullying tactics, as can be seen in the San Jose Articles ( These articles are an aid in combating the increasingly accepted assertion that abortion is a human right. They state first and foremost that, “[a]s a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception”.  According to their website, “The San Jose articles were created to help governments and civil society promote human rights through a proper understanding of how the right of the unborn child are protected in international law. The articles should be used to counter false assertions, such as the erroneous notion that abortion is a human right”.

The next speaker was Professor Robert Walley, a leading obstetrician. He was given the ultimatum of changing his speciality or leaving the field of medicine altogether during the 1970s following the legalisation of abortion in Great Britain. As Professor Walley pointed out, “Medics must live according to their consciences, which tells them not to perform abortions. Medics are trained to save life not destroy it." 
Professor Walley later went on to found Matercare International which runs a  much-needed programme in Kenya. It brings healthcare to mothers living in rural areas, often hours away from hospitals with nothing but dusty tracks to travel on. He gave a sobering account of the state of maternal healthcare in the countries where Matercare currently works: “In the countries in which I work, one in seven mothers will die due to lack of medical equipment...It is ridiculous to supply women with abortion and condoms when they need access to emergency obstetrical care...Abortion is a sin of commission, but failing to provide mothers with obstetrical care is a sin of omission", he said. "We are here to uphold women's dignity".

After a hearty lunch, the conference heard from Terry Brown, a representative of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP), a parish based group that works to support women in Sudan amongst other countries through the building of water wells, children’s homes, feeding clinics, medical treatment and many other things. For the SVP and for pro-lifers in general, being pro-life and being pro-woman go hand in hand. 

Last but not least was the fantastic Dr Obielumani Ideh, an obstetrician and researcher from Nigeria. Dr. Ideh expressed her frustration at the poor level of healthcare available to the vast majority of Nigerian women. In fact, the Nigerian Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) makes up 10.7% of the global MMR of which 33.9% is due to haemorrhage. However, instead of money being pumped into services to help women who are in desperate need of basic equipment, medical staff and – in many cases – just a clean room, abortions are being illegally carried out by international organisations such as IPAS, which has been a presence in Nigeria for 20 years and whose director has been lobbying the president to legalise abortion. IPAS work in Nigeria under the guise that they are providing ‘after abortion care’. How, if IPAS abides by the law, is ‘post-abortion care’ taking place with no abortions? In addition, Dr. Ideh revealed that a department of the British government, the Department For International Development (DFID), has pledged £10 million to IPAS from 2008 to 2015. Dr. Ideh pointed out that this money could go a long way to helping the many women who are in desperate need. It can cost as little as £26 to look after a woman during childbirth in Nigeria, so just £3.4 million could pay for 30,000 patients. At this point, no doubt many in the audience were wondering when the widespread killing of unborn children will end and the rights of women and babies to clean, safe and widely available healthcare will begin. 

The SPUC Maternal Health conference was an indisputable success and set the benchmark for all future maternal health conferences, which BSFL hope SPUC will continue to host. However, finding speakers who are more involved, more passionate and themselves more committed to the improvement of maternal health will be a difficult task indeed! 

This post originally appeared on the Bristol Students For Life blog 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

More events you need to know about!

22 May: ‘In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at the Natural Law’, Oxford
A seminar on the International Theological Commission document, ‘In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at the Natural Law’, 2pm-5pm at Blackfriars, Oxford, co-sponsored by Blackfriars. Rev Dr Robert Ombres OP, Dr Pia Matthews, and the Centre's director Professor David Albert Jones will speak. For more information please contact Gwen McCourt on or on 01865 610 212. Website

25-27 May: World congress of families, Spain 
The Madrid Congress will raise high the standard of the natural family in Western Europe. Join leaders, activists, scholars and officials who will gather to celebrate the natural family as the basic and fundamental unit of society, to share information and ideas, to network and plan for the battles ahead. Website

30 May-3 June: VII World meeting of families, Milan
The city of Milan and the Vatican are getting ready for the coming World Meeting of Families which will take place from May 30 to June 3, 2012 in Milan. The focus will be on family, work and celebration. The unique gathering will bring thousands of families together from all over the world, so they may strengthen their family unit. Benedict XVI will preside over several events at the gathering, including a Mass with thousands of families.In Rome (1994)Pope John Paul II promoted the first World Meeting of Families, to be held every three years (Rio de Janeiro, 1997 - Rome, 2000 - Manila, 2003 - Valencia, 2006  - Mexico City, 2009). As Pope Benedict XVI informed at the end of the VI World Meeting of Families in Mexico City in January 2009, the next Meeting of Catholic families from all over the world will take place in Milan in 2012 on the theme The Family: Work and Celebration. Website

 8 June: Linda Couri talk, London
A former Planned Parenthood employee with experience on abortion issues, Linda Couri presents an inside perspective on the Pro-Choice mindset, addressing the values, goals and motivations behind the Pro-Choice movement with suggestions as to how Christians might best respond to them.
Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Linda is now a sought-after pro-life speaker with unique insights to share. 7pm, Advance booking essential, contact Catherine MacGillivray by email  or 020 7931 6064. Admission fee £5. Website

18 June: Human Dignity Conference, Oxford
Visiting Research Fellow for 2012, Professor Daniel Sulmasy will be giving the keynote lecture at a conference at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford on "Human Dignity", Monday 18 June 9am-5pm. Confirmed speakers so far include Professor David Albert Jones, Professor Chris McCrudden, Dr Sylvie de Kermadec and Ben Bano. To be put on a mailing list for further information, please email Bookings can be made here: Website

18 June: Medical Ethics Alliance: 'Natural Death - Do we need a Pathway?', London
Dr Jacqueline Laing of London Metropolitan University will speak on "End of life care - The legal framework". Prof. P Pullicino, Professor of neuroscience Kent University will give a presentation on "Is it possible to make a diagnosis of impending death? The scientific evidence". There will follow a panel discussion with the two speakers and Dr A Treloar, Dr P Howard, Miss T Lynch, and Dr J Qureshi. 2pm-5pm. Website

20 June: Professor Sulmasy: 'Evidence-based bioethics', London
This lecture, on "Evidence-based Bioethics: Myth or Reality?", will be part of the Royal Society of Medicine Open Section's AGM. For further information about the full meeting 20 June, 4pm - 7.40pm),Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, LONDON, W1G 0AE, including details about how to register, please see here: Website

14th July GCN Wandsworth Wapping walk, London
Come and join The Good Counsel Network on Saturday 14th July in walking approx. 10 Miles from Wandsworth to Wapping, starting with Mass and finishing with Benediction. We are asking all participants to raise a minimum of £100 in sponsorship with no maximum. We are hoping to have at least 100 participants and raise thousands of pounds to help us save more unborn lives. Once you have said you are coming you will receive a fundraising pack to help you raise as much as possible and all the important details. Website

May-October: Vin Garbutt gigs, all over the UK
Vin Garbutt is a very well known name on the folk music scene in the UK and internationally. Vin is a pro-life man, and has put his singer-song writer skills at the service of the pro-life movement. Website

6th-8th September: CNK European conference on euthanasia & assisted suicide, Edinburgh
First European Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide "Euthanasia in Europe: Where have we come from, where are we going?" The Care Not Killing Alliance is organising the First European Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The UK Care Not Killing Alliance is honoured to host this first European symposium, which builds on several successful meetings in North America organised by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. topics will include: The lessons from Nazism,
The Benelux countries today, A global perspective, Scotland’s successful resistance, Their strategies and ours: what works? What doesn’t? Website

23rd September: pro-life pilgrimage, Walsingham 
The pilgrimage will be led by Bishop John Hine, who has special responsibility for Marriage and the Family. To arrange a coach, please email at lgcluton (at)

4-8 October: VI World Prayer Congress for Life, Vienna
Human Life International will be hosting its 6th world congress in the city of Vienna, Austria. This will be 5 days of excellent talks, spiritual activities, day trips, and a gala dinner. Speakers include Rev. Dr. Maximilian Heim, Msgr. Philip Reilly, Dr. Mark Miravalle, Cardinal Schonborn, and Dr. Theresa Burke. A good opportunity to make friends with prolifers from all over Europe. More details and website info will be provided in the near future.

 15 October: 'Fair Innings?' Anscombe memorial lecture, Oxford
"Fair Innings? Health care rationing in favour of the young over the elderly." Most Rev Dr Anthony Fisher OP will give the third Anscombe Memorial Lecture. Monday 15 October, 5pm-7pm, Oxford. Website

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sir Francis Galton: the father of Eugenics

Sir Francis Galton 1822 - 1911
The term ‘eugenics’, literally meaning ‘well-born’, was coined by Sir Francis Galton, who may be considered the ‘father of eugenics’ as he laid the intellectual foundations of the movement and placed his considerable prestige and influence behind practical efforts to further it. 

Francis Galton was born on the 16th February 1822 in Birmingham. He has often been described as a ‘child progidy’, learning to read and memorise long portions of the classics at a young age. It was decided that he should study medicine and consequently in 1838, aged sixteen, he took up residence as an ‘indoor pupil’ at Birmingham Central Hospital. He then studied medicine for one year at King’s College, London. In 1840 he continued his studies by reading Mathematics at Cambridge. He does not seem to have held any recognisably Christian beliefs; in fact he was later to argue that the improvement of mankind by eugenics ‘must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion'. And he saw ‘no impossibility in eugenics becoming a religious dogma among mankind.’[1] Perhaps this idea of the perfectibility of man without God owes its origin to his membership of the Scientific Lodge of the Freemasons which he joined early in 1844, becoming a Master Mason on 13th May the same year.[2] A central tenet of Freemasonry is a naturalism which pursues human ‘progress’ without any reference to God or supernatural grace and it would be very surprising if there were no connection between Galton’s ideas and his membership of the order. The year 1844 also saw the death of his father which left him an inheritance sufficiently large that he no longer needed to train for a profession. He spent the next few years travelling and on his return to Britain engaged in various scientific pursuits.

Charles Darwin 1809 - 1882
The publication of On the Origin of Species by his cousin Charles Darwin was one of the most important events of his scientific career. He wrote that it ‘made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally’ and that its effect was ‘to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities' whose teachings he thought were opposed to scientific facts.[3] However it is worth remembering that many of those things that Galton considered ‘facts’, such as the inferiority of the African races, have since been disputed or rejected all together. Galton began to apply Darwin’s theory to the study of variations among human beings and became convinced that mankind could and should be made the object of selective breeding, after the manner of animals, in order to increase the frequency of ‘superior’ qualities, such as intelligence.

There is nothing either in the history of domestic animals or in that of evolution to make us doubt that a race of sane men may be formed, who shall be as much superior mentally and morally to the modern European, as the modern European is to the lowest of the Negro races.[4]

Galton spent the rest of his life pursuing ‘race improvement’. One of his suggestions was that the Chinese should be encouraged to migrate to Africa to ‘out-breed and finally displace’ the ‘inferior Negro race’. He argued that ‘average negroes possess too little intellect, self-reliance, and self-control to make it possible for them to sustain the burden of any respectable form of civilization’ whereas ‘the Chinaman is a being of another kind, who is endowed with a remarkable aptitude for a high material civilization.’ Essentially he saw the Chinese as an evolutionary ‘competitor’ to the indigineous Africans. The elimination of the latter by outbreeding was a ‘gain’ which ‘would be immense to the whole civilized world’.[5] It was a small step, made in a few generations, from justifying the slow elimination of a ‘lesser race’ by outbreeding to justifying the speedier process of extermination by genocide.

Sir Francis Galton was concerned not only with the elimination of inferior races but also with the perfecting of white Europeans. Like many of his contemporaries he was convinced that the population of Britain was ‘degenerating’.[6] He wrote to the Times in 1909 to complain that ‘the bulk of the community is deteriorating’.[7] He divided the nation into three categories; a minority of ‘desirables’, a larger number of ‘passables’, and another minority of ‘undesirables.’[8] He advocated awarding diplomas to men and women of exceptional intellectual and physical qualities and then encouraging them to intermarry. He recommended that the wealthy seek out promising young persons among the poor for their patronage, suggesting that ‘it might well become… as much an avowed object of honour, for noble families to gather the best specimens of humanity around them, as it is to maintain fine breeds of cattle and so forth’.[9]

Galton complained that ‘a considerable part of the huge stream of British charity furthers, by indirect and unsuspected ways, the production and the support of the Unfit.’ Rather than being wasted on ‘harmful forms of charity’ resources should instead be directed to the ‘production and well-being of the Fit.’ He argued that ‘undesirables’ should still be cared for but insisted that ‘by means of isolation, or some less drastic yet adequate measure, a stop should be put on the production of families of children likely to include degenerates.’[10] In his work Eugenics: Its definition, scope and aims he expressed his belief that if ‘unsuitable marriages from the eugenic point of view were banned socially, or even regarded with the unreasonable disfavor which some attach to cousin-marriages, very few would be made.’[11]  

Sir Francis Galton was the primary originator of the ‘science’ of Eugenics but the movement he started soon spread. One of the first results was that numerous attempts were made to sterilise those deemed ‘undesirable’. A private members bill that would have legalised voluntary sterilisation was defeated in the House of Commons in 1931 but in the United States compulsory sterilisation was legalised in many states and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927. In other US states laws were passed forbidding certain groups to marry. It is claimed that in Sweden between 30,000 – 62,000 ‘undesireables’ such as the mentally ill were sterilised under varying degrees of compulsion. The province of Alberta in Canada permitted the sterilisation of aboriginal girls in ‘native schools’ and eugenics has been seen as an important factor behind the policy of removing mixed race children from their aboriginal parents. In Australia it was thought that Aborigines would die out, if they were kept apart from whites, because of their evolutionary inferiority. Eugenic arguments were also deployed in Japan to promote forced sterilisation and then, in 1948, the legalisation of abortion.

The connection between eugenics and abortion is very clear. If one human being is considered of less worth than another, and if their existence is seen as a threat to the well-being of the race, then it follows logically that there will be those who wish to resolve the problem, often by more direct means that those advocated by Sir Francis Galton. Towards the end of his life Galton was praised by the Jewish Chronicle for his life spent ‘improving the fitness of the human race and striving to secure that children born into the world shall be well born in the sense that they shall not start life handicapped due to physical defects.’[12] The abortion industry, in its relentless war against unborn children with disabilities, has simply taken this position to its logical conclusion. 

[1] Francis Galton, ‘Eugenics: Its definition, scope and aims’, The American Journal of Sociology 11, (1905)  
[2] Papers held by the Galton Laboratory, University College London and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London.
[3] Francis Galton, Memories of my Life, (1908)
[4] Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius, (Preface to 1892 edition)
[5] Francis Galton, ‘Africa for the Chinese’, Letter published in the Times on 5th June 1873.
[6] Francis Galton, ‘Our national physique--prospects of the British race--are we degenerating?’, Daily Chronicle, 29th July 1903
[7] Francis Galton, 'Deterioration of the British Race', Letter published in the Times, 18th June 1909
[8] Francis Galton, ‘Address on Eugenics’, Westminster Gazette 26, (1908)
[9] Francis Galton, ‘The possible improvement of the human breed under the existing conditions of law and sentiment’, Nature 64, (1901)
[10] Galton, ‘Address on Eugenics’
[11] Galton, ‘Eugenics: Its definition, scope and aims’
[12] Introduction to an interview with Francis Galton in the Jewish Chronicle on 20th July 1910

Thursday, 10 May 2012

"We had a whole plan to sell abortion, and it was called sex education" (Part 2)

In part 1 we heard ex-abortion facility owner Carol Everett's talk about sex education, and how it's used to sell abortion. So it's not surprising that abortionists here in the UK also care deeply about sex education. A few examples:
  • BPAS and Marie Stopes have close links with groups such as Brook, Education for Choice (now a Brook project), and the Family Planning Association (fpa), each intimately involved in sex education, and provision or referral for contraceptives and abortion. 
  • Marie Stopes International has a site aimed directly at children and teens from 11-15 years old. Telling an 11 yr old about sex, showing them detailed images of male and female genitalia, going into detail about a variety of sexual acts a person may do alone or with others, how to get contraception and appointments for abortion consultations, would quite rightly get a person arrested. Why are Marie Stopes allowed to do this through their website? 
  • Earlier this year BPAS, the Calthrope abortion facility, and Brook, were amongst the invited speakers at a sex education conference aimed at teenagers. 
  • Groups like Brook, fpa, and Abortion Rights are keen to be invited into secondary schools and universities to give talks. 
  • Groups like Marie Stopes International  are a regular feature of university fresher's fairs. 
  • Both Marie Stopes and BPAS expected to sit on the coalition government's Sexual Health Forum (only Marie Stopes does). 
  • Such groups are supportive of legislative attempts to make sex education a compulsory requirement in schools. 
  • The founder of the Birmingham Pregnancy Advisory Service (later BPAS) and Calthrope abortion facility, Dr. Martin Cole, was notorious for his explicit sex education film, which was so graphic that it was banned by 1971. Cole made a career as a "sexologist" and remains the registered owner of the Calthrope abortion facility, which was revealed to be involved with the sex-selective abortion Telegraph newspaper investigation. 
SPUC's campaign to protect children from destructive anti-life sex education is of paramount importance. It's about safeguarding children and restoring the rights of parents as the primary educators of their children. To paraphrase the saying of a wise man "it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection." Campaigning for the recognition and upholding of the fundamental right to life from conception is absolutely essential, but we cannot reasonably expect that alone to end abortion. As long as there is a perceived need for abortion, abortion will remain. The perceived need is in part the justification for not eradicating abortion altogether from society at the level of legislation and public opinion. So, addressing the perceived need by tackling corrupting sex education, tackling contraceptive sex and extra-marital sex, reinstating parents as the primary educators in their children's lives, and offering a correct education in human love and sexuality, must continue to constitute a integral part of the pro-life movement.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"We had a whole plan to sell abortion, and it was called sex education" (Part 1)

The title of this post is a quote from Carol Everett, a former owner of 4 abortion facilities, who was responsible for the deaths of 35,000 unborn babies and 1 mother, and the injuring of at least 19 mothers who required serious surgery following an abortion. Carol's descent into the abortion industry began after she aborted her third child in 1973, under pressure from her husband and doctor. After the abortion her life began to fall apart; she had an affair, started to drink and eventually left her husband. With a psychiatrist's help she got her life together enough to go to work for a medical supply company, which led her into the abortion industry. Working for an abortionist showed her how much money can be made in the abortion business, so she decided to open her own clinics. Carol was on target to open her fifth abortion facility, and earn $1 million a year selling abortions, as she puts it. 

Below is a video interview with Carol. It is definitely worth watching the whole thing. Direct induced abortion is the intentional homicide of an innocent unborn child. On a list of bad things, it's at the top. At the same time, let's remember that abortion doesn't exist in a vacuum. The intentional killing of the child in the womb is the end result of a chain of causes such as anti-life sex education and the misuse of the gift of sex.  

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Please sign international petition against eugenics

Stop Eugenics Now, a new European initiative, has launched an international online petition calling on the European Court of Human Rights to
“reaffirm the principle of the prohibition of eugenics, and the obligation of the Member States to protect the life of every person, including of the disabled before their birth.”
The petition is open to individuals, families, and disabled rights organisations. People living in EU and Council of Europe countries are strongly encouraged to sign the petition. The campaign is supported by pro-life and disability rights organisations such as Fondation Jerome Lejeune, Down Syndrome Ireland, Down Syndrome Education International, and the European Down Syndrome Association.

The petition comes in response to the case of Anita KRUZMANE v. Latvia. The statement of facts provided by the European Court of Human Rights says that on 15 January 2002, applicant Anita Kruzmane, during her eighteenth week of pregnancy, had an appointment with doctor L. The doctor suggested that the applicant have a consultation with a specialist and, inter alia, issued a referral for the applicant to undergo an alpha-feto protein (“AFP”) test. The AFP test is used to detect prenatal foetal abnormality. The applicant later alleged that she had not in fact been referred for the AFP test by doctor L. and, consequently, had not taken the test. On 5 June 2002 the applicant gave birth to a daughter with Down’s syndrome. The applicant complains under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights that, owing to the alleged negligence of a doctor, she was denied adequate and timely medical care in the form of an antenatal screening test which she claims would have indicated the chances of her child having a genetic disorder and which would have led her to have an abortion. 

This case has come to light weeks after the United Nations established 21 March 2012 the first world Down’s syndrome day. This case now before the ECHR follows several other high-profile cases about abortion, such as Vo v France, Tysiac v Poland, A.B.C v Ireland, and R.R v Poland. This case, like many cases concerning abortion, can be considered another attempt by the pro-abortion culture of death. Most recently Brazil changed its legislation to permit the killing of unborn babies with anencephaly. We have also seen several cases from France and the Netherlands concerning so-called “wrongful births” of children with conditions such as Down’s syndrome. What makes the present case particularly lamentable is the fact that it is disabled babies who are the target of ideologues who jump at the chance of bringing such cases to the courts, disguising their wicked agenda with the rhetoric of choice, rights, health, and equality. The decisions of the courts are then used as a form of soft law to be cited and quoted, included in reports, referenced in future legal submissions, all with the aim of establishing a human right to abortion.

According to the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) memorandum:
“This case may provide an opportunity for the Court to clarify its case-law with regard to eugenics and abortion. This is necessary due to some visible confusion in the existing case-law, and this is made possible considering the large number of important cases currently before the Court on this issue.”
Confusion is putting it mildly, when we consider that each ECHR judgment that fails to recognise and uphold the fundamental and inalienable right to life from conception is a farce that cannot be fig-leafed with claims about state sovereignty and lack of consensus on the issue. Gregor Puppinck of the ECLJ, says that the key question arising from this case can be summarised as flows:
"Does the Convention guarantee a right to eugenics for parents, and in particular to the procedure of prenatal screening-elimination of sick or disabled fetuses? If so, does the State have a positive obligation in this regard?"
On March 21 2012 we celebrated the first International World Down’s Syndrome Day. In the UK 92% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down's syndrome are killed by abortion. This has remained consistent since 1989 when the National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register began. Under the UK Abortion Act, a child with Down's syndrome can be aborted up to birth. These are sad and utterly unacceptable facts. We continue to live in a society that has waged a eugenic genocide against unborn disabled babies. Please sign the petition, encourage others to do so, and think about supporting SPUC’s No Less Human division and our wider work of campaigning on behalf of people with disabilities and illness born and unborn, their parents, and careers.

Taken from the SPUC Director's blog 27/4/12

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dr Halliday G. Sutherland and resistance to the birth control movement

“... the ordinary decent instincts of the poor are against these practices, and indeed they have used them less than any other class. But, owing to their poverty, lack of learning, and helplessness, the poor are the natural victims or those who wish to make experiments on their fellows. In the midst of London, a woman, who is a doctor of German philosophy (Munich) has opened a Birth Control Clinic where working women are instructed in a method of contraception described by Professor McIlroy as ‘the most harmful method of which I have had experience.’”

“It is truly amazing that this monstrous campaign of birth control should be tolerated by the Home Secretary. Charles Bradlaugh was condemned to jail for a less serious crime.”

For these words a renowned medical pioneer was prosecuted for libel by Marie Stopes in 1923.

Dr Halliday G. Sutherland (1888-1960)
Dr Halliday G. Sutherland stood up courageously against the birth control and eugenics movement in the early twentieth century and his life therefore deserves the attention of those of us who continue that battle today. He was born in Glasgow in 1882 and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1908. He began his career as a bacteriologist at Liverpool Chest Hospital before spending time practising medicine in Spain at a British medical clinic. On his return to Scotland he worked at various hospitals before becoming Medical Officer at St. Marylebone Tuberculosis Dispensary in London in 1911. When war broke out he joined the Royal Navy, and then the fledging Royal Air Force. After the war he returned to the practice of medicine becoming an expert in tuberculosis and holding many senior positions in that field. He was also a popular travel writer and adventurer writing books such as Lapland Journey, Spanish Journey, and A Time to Keep. His autobiography The Arches of the Years was published in eight European languages and reprinted thirty-five times.

Shortly after the First World War Sutherland was received into the Catholic Church. He dedicated a great deal of time and energy to exposing the incipient birth control movement publishing Birth Control: A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians in 1922. He began this work by examining and refuting the doctrines of Malthus and the Neo-Malthusians concerning overpopulation. He argued that there was no evidence that the world was facing a crisis of overpopulation and then deconstructed the Malthusian narrative step by step. He argued that the real cause of poverty was economic injustice and not overpopulation. He then moved on to discuss the health risks of contraceptive methods, the degradation of women which was inseperable from their use, the damage that they caused to marriages and finally the way in which in birth control was used to control the poor. He ended the book by discussing the immorality of contraception in the light of the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The first trial of Halliday Sutherland took place in February 1923. Marie Stopes argued that the extracts quoted above were libellous because they alleged that she was taking advantage of the weakness of the poor, that she was subjecting them to dangerous experiments, and that she was guilty of criminal practices. She said that her reputation and that of her clinic had been unjustly damaged. Sutherland defended himself by arguing that his words were true and fair comment made in the public interest. The jury decided that the claims made by Sutherland about Stopes were accurate but that they had been made in a defamatory manner and awarded damages of £100 to Stopes. The judge rejected their verdict and Sutherland was aquitted. Stopes successfully appealed against this decision and £100 of damages were once more awarded to her. Sutherland then appealed to the House of Lords where the Law Lords reached a verdict 4-1 in his favour.

Lord Vincent concluded that Sutherland’s accusations were fair comment and a reasonable expression of the commonly held opinion that ‘such practices are revolting to the healthy instincts of human nature’. Indeed, Lord Vincent expressed his own opinion that works promoting methods of birth control ‘are calculated to have a most deplorable effect upon the young of both sexes’ and pointed out that Stopes’ works were ‘of such a nature that they were not read aloud’ in the court. The accuracy of Lord Vincent's prediction has become all too clear in our own day (see here and here for evidence of this).
The Stopes vs Sutherland trial ended with criticism of Marie Stopes being heard in the highest court in the land and with at least one of her allegations against Sutherland being dismissed as ‘absurd.’ The enormous costs that she was made to pay were a setback to her work. Unfortunately the courts would not long remain places where human dignity was upheld yet Sutherland can remain for us a model of courage and tenacity in defence of human life.

Dr Halliday G. Sutherland died in April 1960. He had been made Knight Commander of the Order of Isabella by the Spanish government in 1954 for his services to the Spanish people. In 1955 he was presented with the Pope John XXI medal, which is awarded to Catholic doctors who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of medical ethics.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Nobel Peace Prize Committee disregards violence towards unborn children and their mothers

Nelson Mandela (pictured right) was the first Black president of South Africa following the historic 1994 elections, the former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and is a past winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (shared with F.W. De Klerk, the previous president). He is a figure who is often revered for his efforts in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, including a 27 year stint in prison, and is widely recognised as the modern poster boy for racial equality. 

Some people may be surprised (and saddened) to learn that Mr Mandela is not however an ally of the pro-life movement. Indeed, as Mr Mandela and his comrades dethroned apartheid after 48 years in power, he and his health minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ushered in a new era of unprecedented bloodshed in South Africa, with the passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill in 1996. It is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone who considers themselves to be pro-life, not least because Nelson Mandela’s victory against Apartheid is a shining example of the triumph of truth over lies

The bill, which was at the time one of the most permissive pieces of abortion legislation in the world, allows women of any age (including minors) access to abortion in the following circumstances:
  • On demand up until 12 weeks gestation
  • For socio-economic reasons (fear of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health, physical or mental disabilities thought to be present in the unborn child, rape/incest or undesirable social or economic circumstances of the woman) up until 20 weeks gestation
  • In cases of danger to the life of the mother and where disabilities are thought to be present in the unborn child (after 20th weeks gestation (i.e. up until birth). 
The bill also allows midwives to carry out abortions up until the 12th week instead of a doctor and does not require a second opinion except in cases of abortions past 20 weeks gestation. Even more shockingly, the bill allows for forced abortions in cases where a woman is deemed to be ‘severely mentally disabled’, up until 12 weeks gestation. From 13 to 20 weeks gestation, a forced abortion may be carried out on ‘severely mentally disabled’ women upon the request or with the consent of a parent, guardian or curator personae. 

Abortion had previously been allowed under the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 in cases where the physical or mental health of the mother was in danger, in cases of rape/incest or if the baby was thought to have a disability of any kind, but not for social reasons. Therefore, prior to 1997, legal abortions had taken place and figures had been steadily increasing from 1990-1996 from around 750 to 1,600 every year. However, after the passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, the number of abortions jumped to around 26,500 in 1997 and peaked at approximately 93,600 in 2008. Many supporters of the abortion bill claimed that legalised and so-called ‘safe’ abortion would help to drastically reduce the Maternal Mortality Rate in South Africa. It has, as any pro-life person could have predicted, done nothing of the sort. In fact, the South African Health Review reported in 2007 that 625 mothers died per 100,000 live births in 2007 in South Africa, a figure which has increased from 369 in 2001. 

The reader may also be shocked to read that the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who also won the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his part in ending Apartheid, not only supports the ‘right’ to abortion, but is an avid champion of abortion and contraception. The website ‘Population Security’ has said, “Tutu said he approved of artificial contraception and said abortion was acceptable in a number of situations, such as rape and incest.” He was also quoted as saying, “Planned Parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians...Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in planning our families”, and that it was far better to have the “children that we want than to say you must have children, no matter what”. 

The controversy does not end there. Gateway news reported in December 2011 that Tutu has endorsed Marie Stopes clinics in South Africa through a poster which includes a picture of himself, entitled ‘Choice not chance’ - the Marie Stopes slogan. According to a Marie Stopes spokesperson, this was a one off internal campaign for the abortion provider in South Africa. Ironically, Tutu is the author of a children’s storybook bible which is supposed to celebrate children all over the world.

A poster inside a Marie Stopes clinic in Cape Town 

It is saddening to see those who fought against the great injustice of Apartheid, promoting such cruel acts of violence towards unborn children and their mothers.  Notwithstanding their contributions to peace in other areas of society, how can these men be held up as champions of peace when they campaigned for the death of countless babies in the womb?
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