An article appeared in the Herald a few days ago about some parents who decided to call the police after finding their daughter had been given a rubber foetus and a pamphlet describing the development of the unborn, while walking from school.
The parents apparently found it ‘disgusting’, and thought an appropriate response was the call the police.
The mother of the girl states:
“Everyone is allowed to protest and I don’t have any problem about that, but what they gave out was really inappropriate.”
How exactly is it inappropriate? We have no problem in society teaching sex education to the same age group, so what is so inappropriate in giving a 12 year old a model foetus and description card? If we were to follow such logic, then we should report biology teachers who teach the science of any stage prenatal development. The models were not forced upon them or even targeted at that age group, in fact, the pro-life group behind this had consciously removed the information packs during school leaving time, but would still hand them out if actually asked.
“As parents we have to give permission to have any religious or sexual talks at school”
This has nothing to do with religion. Would she be happy to paint other areas of science as a religious issue that should be only dealt with in a religious context? Not once has she acknowledged or talked about the actual content of the card or how it can be construed as offensive or inappropriate.
With respect to the right of parents to raise children the way they wish to within the law, rejecting objective, factual, biological science is nothing short of willful ignorance. This isn’t about forcing a specific opinion onto others, it’s about allowing others to see reality and subsequently make up their own mind in regards to whether the unborn is both alive and human.
This isn’t the first time people have been offended at these rubber foetuses: pro-lifers in Roswell, New Mexico were suspended for distributing rubber foetuses at high schools.
The purpose of these models is to provide information about the unborn to people who are interested in understanding more on the issue of abortion. This incident highlights the direct opposition to the science of prenatal development that is exhibited by some of those within the pro-choice movement.
Cross posted from BioEdge.
Children with special needs can be a great challenge to care for but a tragic story from Australia this week demonstrates that the search for the perfect child can have devastating consequences.
A hospital in Australia is making news for having killed the ‘wrong’ twin in a selective abortion. The mother of the two babies had wanted to abort the baby who doctors said had little chance to live. But now, both babies are dead.
The Herald Sun newspaper reports that the unnamed woman from Victoria had already named her unborn children when doctors told her one of the unborn babies had a congenital heart defect that would require years of operations, assuming the baby survived long enough to have them.
The mother decided to have an abortion, terminating the life of one of her unborn children and allowing the other baby to live.
The newspaper indicates an ultrasound technician checked on the healthy baby before the abortion and determined that the child was in a separate amniotic sac from its sibling. However, the abortion, which took place last Tuesday afternoon, went awry and the wrong baby was injected with drugs meant to end his or her life.
After the mother was informed of the error, doctors did an emergency Cesarean section and the sick unborn baby was killed in a three-hour operation, the newspaper indicates.
A friend of the mother told the newspaper she is having a difficult time following the error.
“She went to the hospital with two babies and now she has none. And she had the heartache of giving birth to her sick baby. She’s traumatized,’ she said. ‘The hospital said it had followed correct procedure, but how could this happen? The ultrasound clinician said she checked three times before the termination because she didn’t want to make a mistake.’
The newspaper indicates the family is considering legal action.
Ertelt goes on to relate the stories of other similar cases around the world.
The story graphically illustrates the grim reality of the ‘search and destroy’ approach to unborn babies with special needs. Such procedures are now very common although very few involve twins.
It is interesting that the killing of an ‘unwanted’ child with special needs in the womb is regarded as ‘normal’ whilst the killing of a ‘wanted’ normal child is seen as a tragedy and worthy of international news coverage.
And yet if the ‘abnormal’ baby had actually been born, doctors would presumably have done everything possible to provide what treatment or care they could.
Of course if the second ‘normal’ child had also been ‘unwanted’ then the story would not have warranted a mention. Abortion of ‘unwanted’ ‘normal’ babies takes place over 40 million times every year around the world.
The British Abortion Act 1967 currently allows abortion up until birth where there is a ‘substantial risk’ or a ‘serious handicap’ – so-called ground E – but this is currently interpreted very liberally indeed.
As I blogged previously, recently revealed statistics showed that between 2002 and 2010 there were 17,983 abortions in this category. The overwhelming majority of these were for conditions compatible with life outside the womb and 1,189 babies were aborted after 24 weeks, the accepted age of viability.
The 17,983 included 26 for babies with cleft lips or palates and another 27 with ‘congenital malformations of the ear, eye, face or neck’, which can include problems such as having glaucoma or being born with an ear missing.
Over the period 2002-2010 there were altogether 3,968 Down’s syndrome babies aborted and now 95% of all babies found to have Down’s syndrome before birth have their lives ended in this way.
Our society’s increasing obsession with celebrity status, physical perfection and high intelligence fuels the view that the lives of people with disabilities or genetic diseases are somehow less worth living.
By contrast the pro-life view is that the life of every human individual, regardless of its intelligence, beauty, state of health or degree of disability is infinitely precious. A just and caring society is one where the strong make sacrifices for the weak.
This story is a stark warning to recognise and resist the eugenic mindset. Our priorities should be to develop treatments and supportive measures for those with genetic disease; not to search them out and destroy them before birth.
Tragically, if this woman had not sought to intervene both her babies would probably still be alive, one needing further treatment and one not.
Lots of people have asked us, “who should I vote for to ensure that we have pro-life mp’s in the next Parliament?”
Firstly, no party has any official position on abortion except for the Green Party. Here is a list of all the parties and their positions:
National: Conscience vote. Generally they have a reasonable number of pro-life candidates and are normally more open to conscience votes.
Labour: Conscience vote. However Labour has often not given conscience votes on issues which should be conscience issues. Labour MP Charles Chauvel has stated in Parliament that he wants to liberalise abortion laws.
Greens: No policy for abortion reform, but generally believe that abortion access should remain. Some of their candidates openly support further liberalisation of abortion laws.
NZ First: Conscience vote.
ACT: Conscience vote.
Maori Party: Conscience vote.
United Future: Try to find out what Peter Dunne thinks. An impossible task at the best of times.
Conservative Party: Conscience vote.
Mana Party: No current policy. It is being written as we speak by the women of the party including Sue Bradford and Annette Sykes.
Other Parties: None worth worrying about.
As you can see, for all parties there is no actual policy on abortion, with it being a conscience issue. Therefore, the best advice that I can give is to try to find out what your local candidates believe. Earlier this year a vote was taken in Parliament on whether pro-life doctor Dr. Ate Moala should join the Abortion Supervisory Committee. This was proposed by Tariana Turei of the Maori party.
Below we have a list of how all the MP’s voted on this issue and a number of other abortion related issues. While this may be helpful in outlining generally where individual MP’s think on the topic this will not be completely accurate due to the vote being taken with very little notice and also the fact that it was not a vote on a directly pro-life amendment but on whether someone should be on the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Please see the bottom of the page for a summary of the issues voted on.
Key (L) = Labour; (N) = National; (M) = Maori; (G) = Green; (P) = Progressive; (A) = ACT; (U) = United Future; (Mana) = Mana
(1) August 1990. Repeal of Section 3 Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act relating to contraceptive advice to under 16 year olds. Introduced by Minister of Health Helen Clark. Other changes to the abortion laws did not proceed.
(2) May 1992. Graeme Lee sought to replace Mrs White, chairperson of the Abortion Supervisory Committee with Nola McGowan, Auckland lawyer.
(3) June 1993. Vote on appointments to the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Geoff Braybrooke moved an amendment to bring in Dr Christine Taylor in opposition to Don McKinnon’s nominee, Dr Christine Forster.
(4) November 1995. Geoff Braybrooke moved an amendment to replace Marlene Lamb with Nola McGowan on the Abortion Supervisory Committee.
(5) November 2004. An attempt to amend Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill making it compulsory for parents to be advised when an under 16 year old was seeking an abortion. The amendments by National MP Judith Collins were in two Supplementary Order Papers 292 (mandatory notification) and 293 (research by ASC) and most MPs voted the same way. The exceptions were Bill English who voted for 292 and against 293, and Paul Hutchison who voted against 292 and for 293. The voting given in the table is for the principal amendment on mandatory notification.
(6) November 2004. Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill. This is the voting for the amendment proposed by United Future’s Murray Smith making it illegal for a Certifying Consultant to approve an under 16’s abortion unless satisfied that a parent or guardian had been notified. If not, the Certifying Consultant had to apply to a judge of the District Court or Family Court to gain approval.
(7) November 2004. Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill. Voting for the amendment proposed by NZ First’s Dail Jones to omit Clause 37.
(8) June 14 2007. Abortion Supervisory Committee appointments. Copeland (Independent) amendment to appoint Dr Ate Moala instead of Dr Rosy Fenwicke.
(9) June 14 2007. Abortion Supervisory Committee appointments. Brown (NZ First) amendment to appoint Dr Peter Hall instead of Patricia Allan.
(10) April 7 2011. ASC appointments. Re-appointment of Professor Dame Linda Holloway and Rev. Patricia Allen and new appointment Dr Tangimoana Habib. Tariana Turia (Maori Party) put forward an amendment substituting Dr Ate Moala.
The Medical Council has stopped an attempt to force pro-life doctors to refer patients to others who are prepared to assess them.
A group of pro-life doctors took the council to the High Court last November. Justice Alan MacKenzie directed the council to reconsider the draft guideline on abortion and conscience, which he said would have exceeded doctors’ statutory obligations.
He said doctors with a conscience objection to abortion could, when approached by a patient seeking one, either inform the patient that she could go to another doctor or family planning clinic, or arrange a referral, if the doctor’s conscience permitted, to another doctor.
For more information on conscientious objection and abortion in New Zealand check out our Information for Med Students section.
The wound comes from well-meaning people. “Well, it wasn’t that far along.” “You can always have another child.” “Lots of people go through this.”
Miscarriage is a tragedy that so many people misunderstand. They are not quite sure how to console a friend or relative who has suffered this loss.
While there are no magic formulas, there is one fundamental truth that needs to stay front and center: a miscarriage is the loss of a child who is just as real and has just as much value as any other child of any age. A woman who has a miscarriage is a parent who has lost a child, as is the father of the child as well.
In a society which continues to have a legal and cultural blind spot for the unborn, many suffer from the illusion that miscarriage doesn’t grieve a parent as much as the loss of, well, a “real child.” And that is precisely what hurts so much. We can never console someone in grief if we imply, even remotely, that the person they lost wasn’t real.
Dr. Byron Calhoun, President of the American Association of Pro-life Ob-Gyns, has observed that prior to 1970, the loss of a child before or during birth was often treated in medical literature as a “non-event,” but that now there is a growing awareness of the grief associated with such loss. In fact, Dr. Calhoun has developed a hospice program for unborn children.
As the medical community advances in sensitivity and understanding of these points, so must we all. Our love, our compassion, our sharing in the grief of such losses, can bring healing to the parents who have suffered miscarriage. The naming of these children who have died is one significant way of acknowledging their reality. The counting of these children matters too, so that if a parent is asked how many children he/she has, the child who died before birth is counted as one of them.
I recall the first pro-life billboard that we set up in 1990 here in our community of Staten Island, New York. It depicted a developing unborn child. One of the first phone calls I received about it was from a woman who had lost a child by miscarriage. “I can’t tell you how consoling your billboard is to me. Thank you.” That was all she said.
Perhaps the reason it was consoling was that someone was saying publicly what she knew privately: that was a real child. The life of that child matters, no matter how short it was. The death of that child matters, no matter how many may not cry. And the love I have for that child matters, even if nobody else knows.
Cross posted from LifeSitenews.com.
This week we are taking a break from our Brendan Malone FAQ videos and bringing you a riveting talk from Ted.com.
In this video Alexander Tsiaras (Associate professor of medicine and chief of scientific visualization at Yale University in the department of medicine) shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond.
Brazil proposed a resolution today to establish an annual World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. Over 60 countries celebrate Down Syndrome Day on that date, chosen because 3/21 represents the three copies of chromosome 21, the unique trait of people with Down syndrome.
Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson explains the reason for establishing a special day. “Activities and events held on World Down Syndrome Day can have a tremendous impact, showcasing the abilities, talents and accomplishments of people with Down syndrome.”
Muttiah Muralitharan, a record breaking Sri Lankan cricketer said, “The aims of World Down Syndrome Day are to promote awareness and understanding, seek international support, and to achieve dignity, equal rights and a better life for people with Down syndrome everywhere.”
One statistic reveals the need for better awareness: Over 90% of unborn babies discovered to have Down syndrome are aborted. It would be hard to find any other people group who is experiencing such a near-total extinction.
Mark Leach’s daughter is one of the few allowed to survive. He writes in “My Daughter’s Paradoxical Genes” (the whole article is well worth reading):
“My daughter Juliet was born with two genetic conditions that have been historically discriminated against . . . One of Juliet’s genetic conditions is that she has a third copy of the 21st chromosome in every one of her cells . . .
“In most Western countries, it has been standard of care for the past several years to offer prenatal testing for Down syndrome to all expectant mothers. Should the test be positive, medical guidelines require that the physician counsel his or her patient on abortion . . .
‘It is a paradox, then, that ethicists, physicians, and policymakers have taken the exact opposite position for my daughter’s other genetic condition . . .Juliet also has a duplicate X-chromosome in each of her cells. This double-X condition is commonly diagnosed as “female.”
“. . . the Ethics Committee for the American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued an opinion in 2007 that said it was unethical to use prenatal testing for sex selection. This was the same year that ACOG also recommended that all women be offered prenatal testing for Down syndrome. For double-X, prenatal testing is unethical if its purpose is to abort based on the sex of the baby; for Trisomy 21, it is ethically required to offer prenatal testing in order to allow for aborting the baby based on its genetic condition . . .
“The United Nations Population Fund hosted an international forum to address the sex imbalance occurring in Asian countries due to sex selective abortions against girls. Nobuko Horibe, the Director of the UN’s Asia and Pacific Regional Office declared at the opening, “We must join forces to ensure that sex selection is understood as discrimination against women and girls and should end.”
‘. . . in France, where 96 percent of fetuses with Down syndrome are aborted, a Parisian Deputy in Parliament wondered last month: “The real question I ask myself is why is there still 4 percent?”
“. . . What will it take to view the high percentage of abortions to be the “gendercide” — equivalent against Down syndrome such that there is another UN official calling for zero tolerance to the unethical practice of selectively aborting Down syndrome pregnancies?”
Perhaps celebrating World Down Syndrome Day will be a start.
Cross posted from lifenews.com.
Cross posted from Jospephine Quintavalle. Josephine is the director of CORE, Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a non-profit organisation in the UK which focuses on the controversial issues associated with human reproduction. The group was founded in 1994 and is a key contributor to ethical debate at national and international level.
I receive an excellent newspaper cutting service from the Movimento per la Vita in Italy, and am grateful to my pro-life colleagues in that great country for keeping us up-to-date on the significant progress they are making on so many ethical fronts.
Last week, for example, there was news highlighting the significant financial aid being offered by the Friuli region of Italy to pregnant women facing economic hardship, an excellent example of a very practical solution to a major cause of crisis in pregnancy.
And it was encouraging in October to read — albeit reported unenthusiastically by Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica – that, thanks to a huge increase in healthcare professionals registering conscientious objection to abortion, the annual number of terminations has gone down from 231,000 in 1982 to 115,372 in 2010.
The refusal of Italian medical staff (gynaecologists, anaesthetists, nurses, and others) to take part in abortion has been felt particularly in the South, and La Repubblica states that there are now only some 150 doctors (many elderly) left who are prepared to perform them. How soon before there are none?
According to the newspaper, one Italian abortionist laments that he has had no holiday in eight years because nobody else will do terminations in the hospital where he works. He does nothing else, no other gynaecological interventions, and is cold-shouldered by medical co-workers. He has handed in his notice.
Abortion numbers halved in 15 years! And largely through the power of conscientious objection. Congratulations to our Italian friends. If only we could count on such solidarity within our own health professions.
There was another Italian abortion story reported recently, however, which does not make for such comfortable reading, and which highlights a very significant problem within the European community in general. (Sunday Times, 9 Oct.)
It was about an abortion performed in London at 28 weeks gestation on an Italian mother, who flew over to confirm a diagnosis of fetal abnormality. This was followed by feticide (a fatal injection to the fetal heart). She returned home quickly and the dead baby was delivered soon after. The story came to light because of an inquiry at the hospital where the abortion was completed.
Some 140 Italian women come to England every year for abortions, along with many from other countries both within and outside the European Union. Many are late abortions and quite possibly involve feticide, but it is not known on how many occasions the woman has then gone home to deliver a dead baby. This was considered one of the most horrifying aspects of the recent Italian case, and even some pro-abortion doctors expressed huge discomfort on hearing about it.
Abortion always horrifies, but now there’s a wider problem we have to confront.
Many European countries have stringent regulations in place, even completely banning abortion, or limiting the practice significantly, but it matters little to those with means to travel outside their own country. What is prohibited in one country will be permitted in another, not least Britain which has some of the most liberal legislation in the world.
Abortion tourism makes a complete mockery of restrictive national legislation – and this applies equally to fertility tourism. It is almost impossible to conjure up a scenario involving assisted reproduction so unacceptable that it would be universally banned across Europe.
I do not know what the answer is, but at the moment the trump cards are held by the most liberal countries, even if they are in the minority. If you can’t do it in your own country, shop around and you are sure to find somewhere unprincipled where anything and everything is permitted.
Cross posted from BioEdge.
Israeli children with birth defects increasingly sue medical authorities for allowing them to be born. The growth in “wrongful life” lawsuits, which the medical profession estimates at 600 since the first case in 1987, has prompted an Israeli government investigation. Medical ethicists told New Scientist that these cases raise serious ethical concerns – not least about the value of disabled people’s lives – and spark fears that medical professionals will become overly cautious in their diagnostic tests, causing healthy fetuses to be aborted. One ethicist alleged that lawyers looking for work are trawling communities with high rates of genetic disease and inbreeding.
“I find it very difficult to understand how parents can go on the witness stand and tell their children ‘it would have better for you not to have been born’,” says Rabbi Avraham Steinberg, of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem. “What are the psychological effects on the children?” The current trend in Israel is that the children sue for wrongful life, which carries a big award designed to compensate for a lifetime of hardship.
The issue is aggravated in Israel by a strong pro-genetic testing culture. “There is an entire system fuelled by money and the quest for the perfect baby,” says Carmel Shalev, of the University of Haifa in Israel. “Everyone buys in to it – parents, doctors and labs. Parents want healthy babies, doctors encourage them to get tested, and some genetic tests are being marketed too early. Genetic testing has enormous benefits but it is overused and misused.”
More pregnancy scans are performed in Israel than in other Western countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany. Israel is also liberal with regard to late-term abortion, when the fetus is viable.