Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Guardian publishes misleading personal account of abortion

At the beginning of July, an OpEd was published in the Guardian by a woman who had aborted her unborn baby at 6 weeks. She had taken her mobile phone into the operating theatre with her and taken photos of what she saw, during the abortion. The original site may be found at: www.thisismyabortion.com
The feet of an unborn baby, aged 10 weeks

The author of the website stated that her intention was to “empower and educate women” and said that the “abortion procedure itself, albeit uncomfortable, was straightforward and passed with ease”. She also said that what she saw during her abortion was not at all similar to the placards held by pro-life protestors outside the clinic. She said, the “protestors’ heartless use of lifeless foetus images made me feel cheated, lied to and manipulated”.

Though it is important to note that this woman has every right to publish and comment on her experience of abortion, it is equally important to point out that what the protestors were showing were real pictures of aborted babies at different stages of development. It is not surprising that her baby would have been reduced to what is seen in the jar, given that his or her body was at a very early stage of development at just 6 weeks, and would have been pulverised by the vacuum used to extract his or her body from the womb. The implication of these photos and the accompanying text is that what had existed in her womb at that point was only what is apparent in the photos, that is some bloody liquid, and nothing more. 

It is useful to point out some basic facts about the baby whose death was documented on this website. At 6 weeks: 
  • The brain, which began development at 3 weeks gestation, continues to grow and the baby responds to touch and moves spontaneously
  • All four chambers of the heart are already present and the baby’s own blood (often a different blood type to that of his or her mother) is being pumped around the body. 
  • The beginnings of arms and legs are beginning to show.
  • And, though the human embryo only measures less than 1/4 of an inch long,  
the “[m]ost significant developmental milestones occur long before birth during the first eight weeks following conception when most body parts and all body systems appear and begin to function” 

A suction and curettage abortion would most likely have been used in the case outlined above. The video below helps to explain why the pictures used did not show a fully formed baby. This video features Fr Frank Pavone, a priest who leads the organisation, Priests for Life, who describes a suction and curettage abortion. Though this is a religious and pro-life organisation, the facts described in the video remain the same. 

When reading literature dealing with the development of the baby before and after birth, there exists a strange contradiction. On the one hand, society (and in this case the NHS) marvels at the rapid and amazing growth of the unborn child, using the word 'baby'. Yet, on the same website, the humanity of the unborn is dismissed when discussing an abortion, that is, the premature ending of that unborn baby's life. Is the unborn baby alive one minute and a commodity to be discarded the next if we decide that this is so? 

In November 2011, research carried out by the University of Chicago and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that:

Obstetrician-gynecologists' beliefs about when pregnancy begins appear to be shaped significantly by whether they object to abortion and by the importance of religion in their lives."

It is very troubling that those who literally deal with life and death on a daily basis cannot accept the scientific fact that human life begins at conception. If our doctors cannot realise, with all their medical knowledge, that humanity is not based on convenience, then it is no surprise that abortion continues unabated in the UK and that cases like thisismyabortion.com are congratulated and held up as acts of bravery. Surely, in this age of equality, we are ready to look past aesthetics and recognise the humanity of the unborn child from conception?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Executive Director of MaterCare International slams BBC

Below is an excellent open letter to the BBC regarding a recent episode of Sunday Morning Live. It's author is Dr. Robert Walley (pictured left), Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Executive Director of MaterCare International. Dr. Walley delivered an excellent presentation at the SPUC "Abortion and Maternal health" conference in London several months ago. 

A letter from Dr. Robert Walley to the BBC
On July 13th I was invited to attend via Skype a debate on the BBC One Sunday Morning Live show for July 15th. The debate question was, "Should we promote contraception in the developing world?". I decided to leave my thoughts about the “debate” to marinate before commenting. I am happy that I was not in fact a participant in the debate. Though the programme was billed as a debate it was nothing of the kind as it was more, as I have learned to expect, of a diatribe against the Catholic Church. This type of debate is more akin to tabloid journalism and was nothing like the debates I have watched on the BBC World Service.

The subjects of maternal mortality and morbidity are the main tragedies facing the mothers of our day, and let me remind the BBC that mothers are women too and that what needs to be done should be given serious thought and discussion not the one sided views of the presenter of the programme and Jennie Bond that verged on the ignorant and juvenile. While I watched the proceedings, I realized that Ms. Bond’s face was familiar and then I remembered that before we left the UK, over 30 years ago she was the outside presenter of Royal events. I began to wonder why she was included in the debate. Has she obtained new qualifications and experience on contraception and the suffering and needs of mothers in sub-Saharan Africa? Unfortunately, her comment about “women not being controlled by old celibate men” ended the “debate”, accompanied by the comments and giggles between the presenter and Ms. Bond that natural family did not work and was simply “Vatican roulette”. This erroneous comment was insulting to those Catholics invited to speak and I'm sure to those who might have been watching. It was clear that both these women did not feel bound by the instructions I was given prior to the programme, concerning the etiquette of debate and that I should not make any insulting remarks. Those comments finally destroyed any credibility of the debate and of the producers of the programme. The only saving grace for the sad proceedings came from Dr. Ideh from Nigeria, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who knew what she was talking about.

I have been working on projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Kenya, East Timor, Albania (during the Kosovo crises), and Haiti (immediately following the devastating earthquake of two years ago). The previous attempts to impose reproductive health (by means of abortion and contraception) was a coercion of women in sub-Saharan and failed for many reasons; cultural, economic, religious, geographic but most of all because Africans favour children, as they see them to be the best insurance on the future of their families, villages, clans and therefore countries. This so-called "reproductive health" was also a source of corruption, as those involved in implementation of the birth control programme of the 70s and 80s travelled first class, stayed in top hotels, drove around in air-conditioned 4 x 4s and were paid large per diems. I recall visiting a "rural population clinic" where there sat a hired nurse on a rickety chair at an old table. On the wall hung only one lonely poster about the use of condoms. She had no transport. She sat in that office day by day and did nothing. This was the product of funding "reproductive health".

By contrast, I can say the best form of family planning is to reduce maternal and perinatal deaths and to do this requires essential obstetrics. Ninety-one percent of maternal deaths can be prevented by proper prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care. However that is not the Gates agenda which smacks of population control. There is every chance that the Gates and DFID initiative will fail too, as will reaching the objective of the 5th Millennium Development Goal (to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015).

Bill and Melinda Gates should have been challenged to fund programmes providing pre and post natal care, safe clean delivery facilities, trained health professionals at every birth, transport etc. African women will soon realise that they have special right, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights No 25, to health care, not to be denied by the super rich. Many of the rural women I meet are disgusted by the attitude of the west and its self-inflicted genocide, and this should have been discussed during the "debate" on BBC's Sunday Morning Live.

One last thought, the Catholic Church is one of the largest providers of health care, e.g. in Kenya it has 40 hospitals mostly outside of the big cities and thus provides 40% of the available hospital beds. In 2005 I was asked by an Italian missionary bishop for advice on what to do to improve maternal health in his rural diocese of Kenya. We carefully looked at what was needed and agreed to help and from that began project Isiolo. Three months later, after having spent 44 years serving all of the people (Christian, Muslim, animist) and 9 years as bishop he was murdered outside of his house by Christians, including one of his own priests. He was mourned by the entire community. This is one of the heroes that do not fit Ms. Bond’s offensive caricature and erroneous narrative of the Catholic Church. Perhaps Melinda Gates and Ms. Bond would like to come and see first hand the suffering of mothers where I am working – it might change their lives.

Thank you for your personal courtesy.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. R.L. Wally
Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Executive Director MaterCare International

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

Aeneid, Book 2, 19 BC:
"Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."
Another translation, by John Dryden, has "Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse." The same thought was also recorded by Sophocles (496 - 406 BC), in Ajax:
Nought from the Greeks towards me hath sped well.
So now I find that ancient proverb true,
Foes' gifts are no gifts: profit bring they none.
The current narrative is that contraceptives will save hundreds of thousands of lives, prevent unwanted children, increase prosperity, make women empowered, and so forth. However, what sort of gift is it, when the considerable evidence showing dire health consequences is ignored? what sort of gift is it, when these contraceptives are being given out by the largest abortion promoting groups in the world? What sort of gift is it, when the Gates Foundation pushing contraceptives is the same foundation that has recently begun to invest heavily in the manufacture and marketing of contraceptives, including developing its own brands?  

Food not contraception saves lives

Food not contraception saves live, says SPUC in the run-up to Melinda Gates' London Summit on Family Planning on 11 July. Recently, Save the Children has announced that family planning 'saves lives' of both women and babies. It has called for aid money to be spent on contraception, claiming that it is a good investment, cheaper than saving children from death by disease or starvation after they are born. These claims are due to be rehashed in a letter to The Financial Times this week. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, examines in this video why money is being spent on contraception when people are starving:

In promoting contraception, Save the Children is echoing agencies that promote abortion and population control for poorer countries. The popular face of this campaign is a call to address the alleged 'unmet need for contraception' among the world’s poorest women. Although Save the Children says this would cost only one pound per woman per year, the UK government, the EU, the US, the Gates Foundation and others are proposing to give many billions of pounds more to stop around 0.2 billion poor women bearing children. Save the Children make specious claims such as '570,000 newborn children will be saved if family planning needs are met'.

In a forthcoming letter in The Financial Times, NGOs Beyond 2014, an alliance of pro-abortion organisations, plan to claim the summit will help progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4 (reduce child mortality). There are real and urgent needs that newborns and young child need help with, and these should be the priority of Save the Children, not pushing contraceptives to stop future children existing.

A report by The Economist (May 2012) concluded that the link between mortality and broader demographic change seems weak. This contradicts the claims of Save the Children and NGOs beyond 2014. 16 of the 20 African countries which have had detailed surveys of living conditions since 2005 reported falls in their child-mortality rates (this rate is the number of deaths of children under five per 1,000 live births). 12 countries had falls of over 4.4% a year, which is the rate of decline that is needed to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting by two-thirds the child-mortality rate between 1990 and 2015. The report notes that countries which reduced their birth rates the most would be expected to have cut child mortality most. This is because such countries have moved furthest in the transition from poor, high-fertility status to richer, low-fertility status. But it turns out that while Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana reduced both fertility and child mortality a lot, others like Kenya and Uganda also reduced child deaths, though their fertility declines have stalled in recent years. Lower birth rates are not the only factor. Liberia, where fertility remains high, did badly on child mortality—but so did low-fertility places such as Namibia and Lesotho. 

Some further facts:
  • Under-nutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries. (Source: Under-five deaths by cause, UNICEF, 2006
  • One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries is underweight (Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
  • 10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year.
  • Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths (Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)
  • According to charity Mary’s Meals, 78% of malnourished children live in countries that have a surplus of food and there is enough food being produced in the world today to feed every person 2,720 kcals each day
  • According to the charity Nothing But Nets, malaria causes 200 million instances of illness per year and kills 600,000 people, mostly children under the age of five. Malaria is both preventable and treatable. Anti-malarial drugs, such as artemisinin and other combination therapies (if used early enough) can be used to treat malaria once it is contracted.
Below is table of leading causes of death of neonates and children under five. A condom, or a hormonal pill or injection will not cure a child of any of the following in the table. Deaths from these causes are extremely rare in the developed world. 


Monday, 9 July 2012

SPUC opposition to the Gates family planning summit

In the run-up to Melinda Gates' London Summit on Family Planning on 11 July, SPUC argues that critical effects of hormonal contraceptives are being ignored. Fiorella Nash, an SPUC researcher, talks about the issues in this video:

It is widely acknowledged that hormonal birth control causes early abortion in some instances. Studies also suggest a link to adverse health outcomes for women. If this is the case, then how are poor countries often lacking basic health systems, going to deal with these consequences?
  • A 2003 study published in The Lancet systematically reviewed 28 studies on cancer and hormonal contraceptives, including 12,531 women who had cervical cancer. The study concluded that compared with never-users of oral contraceptives, the relative risks of cervical cancer increased with long-term use. In 2005 the World Health Organisation classified combined oral contraceptives as a group 1 carcinogenic (cancer causing) drugs and stated that the use of combined oral contraceptives modifies slightly the risk of cancer, increasing it in some sites (cervix, breast, liver).
  • A 2007 study published in The Lancet found that “Among current users of oral contraceptives the risk of invasive cervical cancer increased with increasing duration of use. The risk declined after use ceased, and by 10 or more years had returned to that of never users. A similar pattern of risk was seen both for invasive and in-situ cancer, and in women who tested positive for high-risk human papillomavirus. Relative risk did not vary substantially between women with different characteristics. The relative risk of cervical cancer is increased in current users of oral contraceptives and declines after use ceases. 10 years' use of oral contraceptives from around age 20 to 30 years is estimated to increase the cumulative incidence of invasive cervical cancer by age 50 from 7· 3 to 8· 3 per 1000 in less developed countries and from 3· 8 to 4·5 per 1000 in more developed countries.”
  • A study from Thailand published in 2008 found women who had ever used or currently use oral contraceptives were almost 1.5 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than the control group. the use of oral contraceptives for longer than 3 years was significantly associated with cervical cancer. Women who had used oral contraceptives for longer than 3 years had 2.5 times increase in risk of developing invasive cervical cancer. Women who had started oral contraceptives before age 20 were almost 12 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than those who started after 20 years old. 
  • A 2009 study conducted in Holland at 6 clinics found that currently available oral contraceptives increased the risk of venous thrombosis fivefold compared with non-use. The risk clearly differed by type of progestogen and dose of oestrogen. The use of oral contraceptives containing levonorgestrel was associated with an almost fourfold increased risk of venous thrombosis relative to non-users. The risk of venous thrombosis was positively associated with oestrogen dose.
  • A 2010 study by Harvard University scientist David Hunter concluded that “Current use of oral contraceptives carries an excess risk of breast cancer. Levonorgestrel used in triphasic preparations [three different doses in a cycle] may account for much of this elevation in risk. Yaz and Yazmin are two common forms of hormonal contraceptive that are sold in America and the UK. Both are now known to increase the chance of blood clots. According to the FDA, around 190 women have died from blood clots. This led to a review and re-labelling of these contraceptives.
  • Two 2011 studies published in the British Medical Journal looking at data from the USA and the UK found that there was a higher risk of non-fatal venous thromboembolism in users of oral contraceptives containing drospirenone, relative to levonorgestrel users. This was consistent with the results of two previous epidemiological studies. Concerns about injectable hormonal contraception have arisen as a result of a number of studies showing a higher risk of HIV infection in women who are using an injectable hormonal contraceptive as a method of birth control. Not all studies have found such an increased risk. But several recent studies have: see S McCoy, et al. Oral and Injectable Contraception Use and Risk of HIV Acquisition among Women and R Heffron, et al. Hormonal Contraception Use and Risk of HIV-1 Disease Progression.
SPUC will be issuing further commentaries in relation to the summit in coming days.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Life and Crimes of Margaret Sanger: Part I

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
In this series we have followed the development of eugenic theory and practice from its birth in Darwinism and Malthusianism, its emergence as an influential movement through advocates such as Francis Galton and H. G. Wells and the devastating consequences of the implementation of these ideas by birth controllers such as Marie Stopes. Now we have reached the point where we must consider a woman whose contribution to the movement has been one of the most considerable. She was the organising genius of what was to become, in her lifetime, one of the largest and most powerful organisations committed to the destruction of human life that the world has ever seen, the International Planned Parenthood Federation. We must now consider Margaret Sanger’s campaign for birth control, abortion and eugenics.

Margaret Sanger was born Margaret Higgins on 14th September 1879 to a large New York family; her father was interested in atheism and radical politics. In 1902 Margaret Higgins married an architect named William Sanger who was heavily involved in left-wing politics. She soon joined the Socialist Party and embraced the most extreme ideas of the radical movement. Her assertions of ‘sexual freedom’ and consequent acts of adultery destroyed her marriage; she left her husband in 1913 and they were formally divorced in 1921. In 1914 she began publishing her own newspaper called The Woman Rebel which adopted the slogan ‘No Gods, no Masters’. In one article she proclaimed that ‘rebel women claim the following rights: the right to be lazy, the right to be an unmarried mother, the right to destroy.’ Sanger soon faced prosecution for sending lewd and indecent articles by mail. She left her children in the care of friends and moved to London. While in London she formed a close relationship with Havelock Ellis, whose study of homosexuality (which encompassed ‘inter-generational’ sexual relations) suggested that it was a normal expression of sexuality rather than a disorder, as it had always formally been understood.[1] Ellis was an early member of the Fabian Society and served as Vice-President of the Eugenics Education Society and as President of the Galton Institute. He introduced Sanger to Rosicrucianisim, an esoteric cult, which introduces its initiates to ‘secret wisdom’. Sanger’s fascination with the occult extended to attempting to communicate with spirits.[2] Her frequent trips to London over the succeeding decades became opportunities to begin and renew acquaintanceships, and adulterous relationships, with like minded dissidents, including H.G. Wells whose advocacy of eugenics we have previously discussed.

In October 1915 Margaret Sanger returned to America to face the charges that had been brought against her. In a brilliantly organised speaking campaign she was able to gain much media support for her cause. She opened her first birth control clinic in New York, choosing an area with a large immigrant population. Two weeks later she was arrested and sentenced to thirty days imprisonment for distributing 'obscene' materials and for 'prescribing dangerous medical procedures.' Shortly after her release she launched The Birth Control Review in order to try to change public opinion and win more support for her cause. In 1922 she contracted a civil marriage with a millionaire named James Noah H. Slee. She demanded a pre-nuptial agreement which in effect gave her permission to continue her adulterous practices. Sanger was always able to find wealthy backers, in the future she was to receive financial support from funds such as the Ford,  Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations. Now, in the early 1920s and with access to Noah Slee’s fortune, Sanger was well positioned to make her dreams a reality.

We may conclude our account of Sanger's early life by noting that, while she has a reputation today as a respectable pioneer of birth control, she was in fact a political extremist who, with her involvement with the occult and flagrant transgression of moral norms, aimed at the subversion of the society in which she lived. We will see in succeeding posts that many aspects of her life and work have been hidden and ignored by those who wish to portray her as 'mainstream'. The abortion industry has always wanted to portray itself as a mainstream medical service. In fact, by pursuing the barbaric slaughter of innocent human life, it is taking Sanger's radical subversion to its logical termination, namely, the destruction of that most fundamental of human values, love and respect for human life. 

[1] The precise nature of the relationship between Ellis and Sanger is difficult to determine.
[2] Sanger’s involvement with the Rosicrucians and with the occult is well documented in her own personal papers. See for example the references in Woman of Valour: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America, p524
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