Friday, 21 December 2012

Lies, Damn lies and Broken Promises

For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world ...?
So the Irish government is to legalise abortion. Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, has turned out to be just another gutless politician who would sooner go back on the promise he made to the Irish electorate than stand-up to the bullying of the international abortion lobby. It will not come as a surprise to many that Kenny has caved-in to the pressure from abortion advocates in the Council of Europe, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Health and International Planned Parenthood Federation, but it is still a disappointment. 

Ireland has long been a thorn in the side of the international abortion lobby because it proved that it was possible to have an excellent maternal mortality record without legalised abortion. Efforts to introduce abortion in 1992 and in 2002 failed because the Irish people rejected flawed and fraudulent amendments to their Constitution. But the protection for children before birth has been gradually eroded by the anti-life initiatives of successive governments (such as the the State-run Crisis Pregnancy Agency) and anti-life rulings of the Irish Courts.

There have been a number of stages in the Republic's descent into the culture of death and each milestone has been marked by lies and falsehoods. The first and most damaging, however, was the 1992 decision of the Supreme Court in the X-case. It has taken 20 years but it seems that, unless the people rise up in opposition, this decision will finally lead to the legalised killing of children in Ireland.

The X-case

In a politically-motivated ruling, Irish judges said a 14 year-old girl, pregnant through rape, could have an abortion because her life was threatened. Not threatened in the way that it would be if, for example, she had had an ectopic pregnancy, she was allegedly suicidal so the threat was one of self-harm. The Court's first mistake was to confuse actual life-threatening conditions which arise during pregnancy with a threat of suicide. 

The Court’s second mistake was to pretend that abortion was a treatment for suicidal ideation. Even when there is no doubt that a threat of suicide is genuine, it signifies a psychiatric problem and can only be addressed by psychiatric means. There is no evidence that abortion can alleviate suicidal tendencies. In fact, there is a mountain of research showing the negative effect abortion has on mental health.* Women who undergo abortion are far more likely to take their own lives than those who carry their babies to term. 

The Irish Constitution

The nature of the psychiatric evidence presented to the Supreme Court in 1992 has since been called into question. But there is a more fundamental problem with the X-case which is seldom pointed out. And this is the judges’ interpretation of Article 40.3.3° itself.

The Irish Constitution cannot confer the right to life, it merely recognises it. The right to life is shared by all members of the human family by virtue of their common humanity. No State, no government, no authority can take this right away.

By the adoption of the Eighth Amendment (Article 40.3.3) the Constitution enshrined the position which was already codified in Irish law in the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). Section 58 of this Act makes it a crime to procure an abortion and section 59 makes it a crime even to help to procure one.

Article 40.3.3° states:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
By equating the right to life of the unborn with the right to life of the mother, the Constitution is in fact saying that the right to life of the child before birth is equal to the right to life of everyone already born. It did not change the right to life of  mothers. How could it since every human being shares the same right to life? The right to life of women remained the same after the passage of the Eighth Amendment as it had been before it. It is entirely false to claim, as the Court did, that the adoption of Article 40.3.3° somehow introduced a Constitutional right for mothers to take the lives of their unborn children. Abortion remains a criminal offence in Irish law and there can be no Constitutional right to commit this offence. 

There is no more right to kill a child in the womb in order to protect the life of another human being than there is to kill a child already born.

Medical treatments during pregnancy can have life-threatening consequences for an unborn child and sometimes result in their death. But it is never justifiable to end the life of any child, even with the sincere intention of protecting the life of another person.  

The Irish Supreme Court reached a perverse and unnatural judgement in the X-case. Enda Kenny claims that he must legislate in line with this judgement but this claim is entirely false. Contrary to what the expert group suggests, the ruling of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in A, B & C v Ireland (2010) only requires the Republic to provide legal clarity, not the legalisation of abortion. There is no right to abortion in the European Convention of Human Rights and the ECtHR recognised Ireland sovereignty over its own abortion laws.

Kenny intends to repeal the Offences Against the Person Act and designate which hospitals are to carry out abortions. Both these proposals were rejected by the people in the 2002 referendum. This plan must be resisted - completely. It is important that pro-life groups, the Church and the people themselves are united in this resistance. There can be no negotiation over the right to life. Abortion is an intrinsic evil and there is no acceptable level of evil. 

In the records based UK study, Morgan CM, Evans M, Peter JR, Currie C. Suicides after pregnancy: mental health may deteriorate as a direct effect of induced abortion. (British Medical Journal 1997; 314: 902) comparing suicide attempts before and after abortion indicated the increase in suicide rates after abortion was not related to prior suicidal behaviour but was most likely related to adverse reactions to the abortion. The rate of attempted suicide remained level or decreased before and after pregnancies that resulted in giving birth. But following abortion, the suicide rate increased from a normal baseline to a significantly higher rate. 

Teenagers are at much higher risk of a suicide attempt after abortion. Researchers at University of Minnesota found suicide attempts increased ten-fold for teenagers who were post-abortive in the preceding 6  months. (Garfinkel B, Hoberman H., Parsons, J., and Walker, J. “Stress, Depression and Suicide: A Study of Adolescents in Minnesota,” Responding to High Risk Youth (University of Minnesota: Minnesota  Extension Service, 1986) 

Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Ridder EM Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health (Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry) found that 50 percent of post-abortive teenagers (15-18 years) had suicidal thoughts and  behaviours, double the rate for those pregnant but never aborted, and double the rate of girls who were never pregnant. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Who was Marie Stopes?

Born Edinburgh 15 October 1880, Marie Stopes was a palaeobotanist. Although she is sometimes called Dr Stopes she was not a medical doctor, a fact she  apparently hated to have pointed out. She was educated at University College London and in the University of Munich. A prominent campaigner for the eugenic policies that found their full expression in Nazi racial ideology, she took part in the International Congress for Population Science held in Berlin in 1935. In August 1939, just a month before Britain went to war, Stopes sent a collection of her poems to the Nazi leader saying: 

"Dear Herr Hitler, Love is the greatest thing in the world: so will you accept from me these (poems) that you may allow the young people of your nation to have them?"

In "Radiant Motherhood" (1920) Stopes called for the "sterilization of those totally unfit for parenthood to be made…compulsory." In "The Control of Parenthood" (1920) she said that "utopia could be reached in my life time" if she had power to "legislate compulsory sterilisation" of the insane, "feebleminded", "revolutionaries" and "half-castes." 

Marie Stopes opened the UK's first birth control centre, the Mothers' Clinic, at Marlborough Road in London, 17 March 1921. In 1925, it moved to Whitfield Street in central London, where it remains today. Now named ‘Marie Stopes House’ it is the  flagship clinic of Marie Stopes International (MSI). 

Following her death, 2 October 1958, a large part of Stopes' personal fortune went to the Eugenics Society. This included the Whitfield Street property which she left on condition that it continued as a birth control centre. It is the doorway of this building which is represented in the Marie Stopes International (MSI) logo. Like the logo, MSI’s eugenic agenda may not always be immediately obvious but it is always present.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The medicalisation of abortion in Ireland

Pro-lifers outside the ECtHR, 9 Dec 2009
I will try to sum-up the situation briefly. 

Contrary to what the expert group appears to claim, the ruling of ECtHR in A, B & C v Ireland (2010) only requires the Republic to provide legal clarity not the legalisation of abortion. There is no right to abortion in the European Convention of Human Rights and the Court recognised Ireland sovereignty over its own abortion laws. 

Fundamentally the problem is that while the law in Ireland still recognises abortion as a criminal offence, discussion of the issue has become 'medicalised.' The guidance of the Irish Medical Counsel still reflects the Offences Against the Person Act (1861) which prohibits abortion. However, it understands that a doctor may have a defence against a charge of procuring a miscarriage if he or she can show there were grounds for the reasonable belief that such an intervention was the only way in which the life of a pregnant woman could be saved.

The common perception among politicians, the media and the general public (including sections of the pro-life movement) is, however, that the Irish Constitution confers a right to abortion. It doesn't because abortion remains presumptively illegal and the Constitution can't recognise a right to commit a criminal offence. In spite of this fact the result of the deeply flawed and highly political judgement of the Irish Supreme Court in the X-case, as been that abortion is only ever discussed in terms of healthcare. 

To be fair to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) this current situation is the fault of the Supreme Court and successive Irish governments which pretended to oppose abortion while refusing to defend the right to life of the unborn. The ECtHR therefore only had to accept the judgement in the X-case because the problems it created were never addressed by the Irish Government in its submissions. The Court had already ruled in Tysiac v Poland (2007) that if a right to abortion exists in a State, then there is a duty on the government to ensure that that right can be exercised. From this point of view the procedures for clinical assessment carried out by Irish doctors on a case by case basis, does not provide the predictability which the ECtHR expects members of the public to have in weighing decisions effecting their private lives. Quite naturally, because abortion was presumptively illegal, there was no statutory framework setting out when abortion was lawful and no mechanism for resolving disputes. But the Court was able to cite the Irish Government’s 1996 Review Group Report which “recommended the adoption of legislation regulating the application of Article 40.3.3 (the article recognising the right to life of the unborn), by including a certification process by medical specialists and a time-limit for any certified termination in the case of an abortion considered lawful under Article 40.3.3.” As well as a Government Green Paper from 1999 which advocated much the same thing.

Finally, turning reality on its head, the Grand Chamber declared the Offences Against the Person Act, the primary legislation prohibiting abortion, an obstacle to the provision of 'lawful' abortion and called for its repeal. 

The media firestorm surrounding the death of Mrs Halapannavar has confirmed the widespread misperception of abortion as legitimate healthcare and the abortion advocates in the Government can now set about its legalisation with minimal opposition. 

Every pro-life person in the Republic needs to contact his or her elected representatives and let them know that if they as politicians support the legalised killing of unborn children then they cannot expect to receive the votes of pro-life people at the next election.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Tragic Death of Mrs Halappanavar

Yesterday SPUC issued a press statement on the news of the death of Savita Halappanavar (pictured) in the University Hospital Galway. This is the statement. I will add my own comments below. 

Savita Halappanavar death tragic but abortion doesn’t save women’s lives

SPUC has responded to claims that Savita Halappanavar’s death was due to a hospital's refusal to abort her unborn child by inducing labour. According to reports, Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks’ pregnant when she came to the hospital in Galway. She miscarried and later died from septicaemia. The case is currently subject to investigations.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, told the media earlier today:

“The full details of this case are not yet known, so we must await the investigations which have been launched before we can make definitive comments. What we do know is that miscarriage and infection can be managed by proper medical treatment. Abortion is not medicine - it does not treat or cure any pathology."
Leading obstetricians with extensive experience in dealing with these situations have found that they can be successfully managed without abortion, while sometimes the pregnancy can be saved. This was recently confirmed at a symposium in Dublin by Dr Byron Calhoun, a US obstetrician.

Mr Tully also said:

“It is not ethical to induce delivery of an unborn child if there is no prospect of the child surviving outside the womb. At 17 weeks’ pregnancy Mrs Halappanavar’s child was clearly not viable outside the womb, as there is no scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of surviving outside the womb at such a young age. Rather than removing the protection of the womb from unborn children, the ethical response to emergency situations in pregnancy is medical treatment of the mother for the conditions causing the emergency. In the case of infection, this is usually timely administration of antibiotics. It is also not ethical to end the life of an unborn child, via induction or any other means, where the child is terminally-ill.

What is rarely reported are the many cases of women who have died from infection or other causes because of supposedly safe and legal abortions. Manon Jones, Jessie-Maye Barlow and Emma Beck would all be alive today if they had not been subjected to abortions in Britain. The Republic of Ireland has the world’s best record in maternal health, without recourse to abortion. By contrast, Great Britain and the United States, with their high abortion rates, have poor maternal health records. It is therefore entirely spurious to argue that Ireland should legislate for abortion in order to save women’s lives.”


What I would add to this statement is regardless of the different positions taken on abortion we can all recognise the death of Mrs Halappanavar and her baby as a tragic loss and we can sympathise with her husband and family. During pregnancy women have the right to expect the best healthcare available for themselves and their babies. The Irish Republic has an outstanding record of providing the highest levels of pregnancy care in the world and in fact has a much lower rate for maternal mortality than the UK. The Republic has a rate of only 6 deaths per 100,000 compared with the UK rate of 10. 

It is far to early to know whether Mrs Haapannavar received the medical care she had every right to expect. It is possible her doctors made all the right decisions and were simply unable to save her. The identification in the autopsy of E coli ESBL, which is resistant to penicillins, could indicate that the antibiotic treatment she was given was simply ineffective. We will only know if this is the case when the investigation has been completed. What we do know is that septicaemia can  occur not only after miscarriage but childbirth and also abortion. In fact at least three women in Britain who died following abortion were killed by septicaemia. It is one of the major risks associated with RU4 86 abortions. The type which the Marie Stopes International intends to commit in its Belfast abortion facility. 

It is entirely cynical for politicians and advocates of abortion on demand to use the death of Mrs Halappanavar to push their own agenda. If liberal abortion laws improved maternal mortality rates, then England should have the best maternal mortality rate in Europe. Instead both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without liberal abortion have much better records. The full facts have yet to become clear but there is no evidence Mrs Halapannavar's death was a result of the Republic's ban on abortion.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Human rights, hysteria and media witch-hunts

"Not the Stormont Justice Committee"
Examination of a Witch, by T.H. Matteson 1853. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum
In a diatribe against everyone who opposes the opening of the Marie Stopes International (MSI) abortion facility in Belfast, columnist, Brian Feeney, (Witchfinder should drop idea of 'clinic inquisition'  Irish News 24 October 2012) seems oblivious to the irony of condemning the use of "inflammatory language" whilst speaking himself in almost hysterical terms about witch-trials, inquisitions and "policing women's bodies." 

He calls Northern Ireland's Minister of Health, Edwin Poots, a flat-earther, but if such labels are to be used in the abortion debate they would more accurately apply to those who deny the scientific fact that life begins at fertilisation and that the child in the womb is fully human with a unique genetic code. Such a child is not part of a woman's body and not the property of his or her parents to be discarded. The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that: "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all members of the human family must be recognised as persons before the law, regardless of birth or any other status. Northern Ireland’s laws attempt to defend these rights.

Irish News columnist
(and contestant on the
BBC's Round Britain Quiz)
Mr Feeney (pictured) is also mistaken in his belief that the publication of DHSSPS guidelines on abortion has anything to do with the legality of the MSI centre. Abortion in Northern Ireland is not "regulated" as he suggests, it remains a criminal offence. 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has twice taken legal action to have misleading and illegal guidance withdrawn before Mr Poots took office. Since then he has ordered a review of abortion figures and proposals for auditing data on abortions. Far from dodging the issue as Mr Feeney claims, the current health minister has done more to try to shed light on abortions in Northern Ireland than any of his predecessors. However, this is beside the point. Guidelines are merely guidelines and do not change the law. And it is the law not health service guidance which MSI has challenged by its offer of routinely providing abortions for money. 

Abortion kills children and hurts women. While Mr Feeney may welcome the arrival of a multi-national abortion business, the legislative and legal authorities in Northern Ireland have a duty to act when the law is challenged.

It is almost redundant to point this out but for the sake of those who aren't aware of the on-going media attacks on John Larkin since he suggested the Justice Committee look into the legality of the MSI abortion centre... if anyone can complain about a witch-hunt it is the Attorney General himself. Presumably, advocates of abortion in the media see Mr Larkin as a real threat to the continued presence of MSI in Northern Ireland.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Maries Stopes International, One week on

Outside the MSI abortion facility,  Great Victoria Street, Belfast.
Thursday 18 October 2012
One week ago, Thursday 18 October, the pro-life movement welcomed the news that the Justice Committee in Northern Ireland's devolved government was to launch an investigation into the operations of the Marie Stopes International (MSI) abortion facility which opened amid protests (pictured). The arrival of MSI has caused such widespread public concern that our laws protecting children before birth will be overturned that the Northern Ireland Assembly had no choice but to act against this direct challenge to the law.

If anything good could result from MSI parachuting in from London it is that in his letter to the chairman of the Justice Committee, John Larkin QC, the Attorney General, has spelt out the law in a clear, concise and easily understood summary.

Mr Larkin states: "As you know, abortion in Northern Ireland is a matter regulated by the criminal law primarily by two statutes; the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945. The subject falls squarely within the jurisdiction of the [Justice] Committee. Abortion in Northern Ireland is a criminal offence which is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

"An abortion carried out in Northern Ireland may [emphasis added] not result in a criminal liability if, on a trial for that offence, a jury considers that the person who procured it was a suitably qualified person1 who believed, and had reasonable grounds for believing2, that the continuation of the pregnancy would have created a risk to the life of the mother or would have probably caused serious and long-term harm to her physical or mental health. 

"It must be stressed that termination of a pregnancy based solely on the abnormality of an unborn child is always unlawful."3 

Abortion is not health care and in Northern Ireland it is a criminal offence. The Parliament of Northern Ireland rejected the British Abortion Act in 1967 and for the last 45 years the majority of the people and politicians have continued to oppose the liberalisation of our abortion laws. Through the long years of direct rule from London only the force of public opinion stopped successive British governments from imposing the Abortion Act on the Province. The last attempt to introduce it, in 2008 came only months before criminal justice powers were returned to local politicians. It failed because of the pressure brought to bear on the Prime Minister in London. 
It is vitally important that everyone in Northern Ireland lobbies their elected representatives to urge them to take all the necessary steps to ensure that Marie Stopes is unable to maintain its abortion centre in Belfast. 

Public opinion must demand action to shut this centre down. There is too much evidence of Marie Stopes's involvement in illegal abortions in other countries for claims that the Belfast centre will operate inside the law to hold any credibility.

This is probably the greatest threat against the right to life of Northern Ireland's unborn children. We need everyone to raise this issue with their politicians, in their churches and among their families and friends. The financial resources available to MSI are enormous; but the pro-life people of Northern Ireland have fought long against the threat of liberal abortion. They have worked too hard for the return of accountable democracy to see our laws and our devolved institutions swept aside by the abortion industry. I believe Marie Stopes have underestimated the level of opposition it faces from the people of Northern Ireland.

1 It appears therefore that, where the potential long term harm relied upon consists of harm to the mother’s mental health the opinion of a qualified specialist in psychiatry would be required to have been obtained and considered. 
2 In the case of R v Bourne (1939) 1KB 687, McNaughton J said, “If the doctor is of the opinion, on reasonable and with adequate knowledge, that the probable consequence of the continuation of the pregnancy will be to make the woman a physical or mental wreck, the jury are quite entitled to take the view that the doctor, who under those circumstances and in that honest belief, operates, is operating for the purpose of saving thelife of the 
3 See judgement of Sheil J at paragraph (9) and Nicholson LJ at paragraph (73) in the Family Planning Association v The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2004) NICA and (2004) NICA 39

Friday, 12 October 2012

Marie Stopes International moves in for the kill

The thought that a giant of the global abortion industry is intending to open a centre in Belfast to perform abortion will alarm many people. Especially as businesses like Marie Stopes International (MSI) have in the past shown as much contempt for laws protecting unborn children as they have for the children themselves.

If MSI is serious about the offering abortion as a service, it is difficult to imagine how this can be done without breaking the law. Despite the claims of abortion advocates, the law in the North is perfectly clear. Abortion is not healthcare, it is not a service, it is a criminal offence. Even helping to procure an abortion by making a referral to a centre in England is unlawful. Only when a woman’s life is seriously threatened can it even be considered. The idea that MSI can simply open a centre, get  doctors willing to approve abortions and can then start performing them, has no foundation in law. Unlike Britain doctors here cannot simply rubberstamp approval for an abortion. The decision must be based on a genuine clinical need and with modern medicine such cases are extremely rare. If challenged by legal authorities a doctors must be able to demonstrate that an abortion was necessary, that is, that the unborn child had to die and could not be saved. If this cannot be shown in Court then the doctor and all those who helped procure the abortion could face jail.

Abortionists may be used to breaking the law in Britain by performing sex-selection abortions on baby girls and falsifying paperwork but this is Northern Ireland. The pro-life people of the North will not standby and allow abortionists to change our law by breaking it. They need to know that the law will be enforced.