This, yes this, is the human and civil rights issue of our time

LifeSiteNews this morning reports (LifeSiteNews.com) on how a group of Irish families, backed by one of the country’s small band of fearless pro-life politicianshave joined with international medical experts and disability advocacy groups to launch the Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care at the United Nations.

Last night in Dublin a crowd of thousands gathered outside the Irish parliament to protest against media bias on the issue of abortion in the country. The Irish Times this morning reported “several hiundred”. How about that for a sample of bias? The crowd listened with subdued anger for an hour as speaker after speaker told them stories about the saving of lives, stories exposing the culture of destruction of the unborn and stories of harm suffered by women which national media in the country have ignored. 

A section of the crowd at last night’s demonstration in Dublin

 Ireland’s Pro-Life campaign late last year analysed a sample of two weeks’ mainstream media coverage of health-related stories and found a ratio of 33:1 stories favouring the culture of abortion as opposed to a culture of life. While the demonstration – attended by people from all over the country – focussed on media bias related to the life issue it might equally have shone the light on a number of other social issues where slanted media coverage is angering that percentage of the Irish public which still places value on the common good over rampant individualism.

Some wondered why the demonstration was held outside the Irish parliament. There are probably two answers to that. Firstly, media bias is so rampant across all national general newspapers and broadcasting organisations that selection of the offices of just one would have been invidious. Secondly, the elected represenatives are perceived by the frustrated Irish public as being cowed into submission to political correctness by the pundits who dominate the newpaper colums, the chat shows and current affairs programmes.

Currently a very flawed Children and Family Relationships Bill is being rushed through the Dåil (the Irish parliament’s lower house) with backing from all parties. The Bill is the darling of the media and has been allowed to get to this stage without the normal scrutiny given to proposed legislation. 

Over the past two months there was general media moaning because a proposal from pro-abortion deputy, Clare Daly for the abortion of children diagnosed with “fatal feotal abnormalities” was rejected – depuies had no choice but to reject it because it would have been unconstitutional. It would have passed easily had Ireland’s Constitution not given its protection to the unbond child’s right to life. No one is under any illusions about the real intentions of Ms. Daly –  the overturning of this right. 

This group of Irish families taking the issue to the UN is flying directly in he face of this contrary campaign. Last night’s meeting heard numerous stories of instances where unborn children were diagnosed with feotal abnormalities and yet were born, treated, and now live normal happy lives.

The Geneva Declaration, which is the centerpiece to a a global campaign to end disability discrimination caused by the  ‘incompatible with life’ label, has already been signed by more than 200 medical practitioners and researchers and 27 disability and advocacy NGOs.  It aims to improve care for mother and baby where a life-limiting condition has been diagnosed before or after birth.

 At the Geneva event, entitled ‘Achieving excellence in Perinatal care; Babies with a illness and disability deserve better than abortion’ families from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Spain, and Switzerland said that the label ‘incompatible with life’ was not a medical diagnosis and was causing “lethal discrimination against children diagnosed with severe disabilities, both before and after birth”.

The conference was addressed by Dr Ana Martin Ance an expert in perinatal hospice care, who said that, in her experience, families benefited hugely from supportive care which allowed them to spend time with their children, whose short lives had meaning and value.

Barbara Farlow, whose ground-breaking research led to a new understanding of the experiences of families where children had a life-limiting condition, said that the label ‘incompatible with life’ had been shown to lead to sub-optimal care after birth and that the phrase dehumanised children.

In a moving presentation, Grace Sharp, Derbhille McGill, Sarah Nugent and Sarah Hynes from Ireland spoke about the love and joy their children had brought to them in their short lives.

“My daughter, Lilly Joy, was alive and kicking inside of me and then she fought so hard to have four hours with us after birth before slipping peacefully away. All she knew was love,” Grace Sharp told the conference.

They were joined by Spanish family Francisco Lancha & Macarena Mata who said the right to life of children with disabilities had been seriously eroded.

The Independent TD from Tipperary , Mattie Mc Grath, said that he was delighted to support the global campaign and welcomed news that politicians in Spain, the US and Northern Ireland had expressed support for the initiative.

Professor Giuseppe Benegiano , former director of special programmes for the UN, said that the UN should give support for this important initiative against disability discrimation.

Prof Bogdan Chazan, an eminent obstetrician from Poland said that babies with a challenging diagnosis deserved better care than abortion.

Tracy Harkin of ELC who launched the Declaration states that: ‘As medical practitioners and researchers, we declare that the term “incompatible with life” is not a medical diagnosis and should not be used when describing unborn children who may have a life-limiting condition’. It  also calls for better perinatal care for families.

Ms Harkin said that the families wanted to challenge the United Nations to recognise the dignity and value of all children with terminal illness and disability.

The UN Convention states that ‘States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children’. The Preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also states that a child ‘needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth’.

“Yet studies show that up to 90% of children with disabilities are aborted before birth. In particular, children with life-limiting conditions are subject to discriminatory language and attitudes which deny them their humanity and their human rights. Families who are told that their baby may not live for long after birth need our full support and holistic perinatal care, but this can only be achieved if misleading and offensive language and attitudes are discontinued,” said Ms Harkin.  

 

It is “a debate about the humanity of the unborn child”

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If only Eamon Gilmore, Enda Kenny and company would acknowledge some of these facts and their relevance to the treachrous path they are trying to lead Ireland along.

The New York Times reports on the Gosnell trial summing up:

PHILADELPHIA — They are known as Baby Boy A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E, all of whom prosecutors call murdered children and the defense calls aborted fetuses — the very difference in language encapsulating why anti-abortion advocates are so passionate about drawing attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which wrapped up here on Monday with summations by both sides.
To anti-abortion leaders, the accounts have the power to break through decades of hardened positions in the abortion wars, not just because of the graphic details but because they raise the philosophical issue of why an abortion procedure performed in utero is legal, but a similar act a few minutes later, outside the womb, is considered homicide.
The distinction “is maybe a 15-minute or half-hour time frame and 10 inches of physical space,” said Michael Geer, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an anti-abortion group. “I think it’s going to resurrect a debate about the humanity of the unborn child.”

And for the latest sleight of hand…

The Irish Times reports today that a “pro-choice Abortion Rights Campaign” has launched  “10 days of abortion rights action”  in an effort to get legislation introduced by the Irish parliament before the summer.

Read that another way and please tell me if it is not an accurate re-phrasing: “10 days campaign for the right to terminate the life of a child in its mother’s womb”. Can that really be a right – just because you call it by another name?

At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, the spokeswoman for this campagn, Sinéad Redmond, said there were 142 days until the Oireachtas (the Irish legislature) summer recess. “That’s 142 days when women’s lives in this country are at danger.”

As part of the campaign, 30,000 postcards reading “Greetings from Ireland, failing to take action on abortion since 1992. Legislate for X” will be sent to TDs and Senators.

 The group urged the Government to ensure that suicide be included in any legislation as a grounds for abortion, saying its exclusion would be “highly discriminatory”.

A request to Ms. Redmond: Please give us the comparative statistics for women (per 100,000 pregnancies) who have died in Ireland – either by suicide as a result of pregnancy or in giving birth to their child – and women who have died  having “legitimate” abortions in other jurisdictions where “legal” abortion services are provided.

There is plenty of information out there on this topic. The TDs and senators who are going to be bombarded by Ms. Redmond and her friends should be provided with some information rather than slogans and sound bytes. Try this source to start with. This was reported in the British Medical Journal on the basis of Finnish studies. The graph speaks for itself.

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The pro-abortion activists are clutching at straws on this. Why do they not state the simple truth which is that they want abortion on demand and argue the case on whatever legitimate grounds they can find for this? Meaningless slogans implying some kind of victimhood just makes no sense at all. 

The path Kenny, Gilmore, Martin and Adams are proposing

Well, Ireland. Are you really ready for this?  A study of the state of things in Canada after ten years of gay “marriage” shows among other things that in that country I might well be brought before the courts for daring to put the word marriage in inverted comas because by this I indicate that I don’t accept the redefinition of marriage which coupling it with the word “gay” implies.

And that would be the least of my problems.

Bradley W. Miller, an associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, writing g on Public Discourse looks at the Canadian experience of the impact of the change of the definition of marriage there and asks what that might signify for the US which is now seems to be heading relentlessly in the same direction.

The Irish, the French and the British are on the same track and his study – outlined on MercatorNet – can be applied to these societies just as easily. Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture, he asks?

The Impact on Human Rights? Once this kind of marriage is accepted as a human right, he says, a  corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.

The Right to Freedom of Expression?  He shows that the new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.

Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.

Parental Rights in Public Education? Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education, he argues. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.

Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.

It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.

And what about changes to the Public Conception of Marriage? It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them?

He cites the case of one prominent polygamist community in British Columbia which was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy.

Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.

The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

And the Impact on the Practice of Marriage? As for the practice of marriage, he says it is too soon to say much. But what we can gather from available data, is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.

One can only hope that when the debate on this issue get going in Ireland – and when the Constitutional Forum gets down to business – these realities will be looked at squarely and fairly so that we will all walk into our brave new world knowing exactly what is in store for us. Will Kenny, Gilmore, Martin and Adams, the leaders of Ireland’s main political parties who have committed themselves to going down this Canadian path, take note of all these questions and address then honestly before taking their country on the road to this new world.

Another UN Trojan Horse Dismantled

At last we have a bit of good news showing that the Irish government can be persuaded to make a stand against the politically correct virus with which other states, endemically afflicted with this disease, seek to infect Irish society. On Monday, 10 October the busy-body UN Human Rights Council published its draft report on Ireland’s human rights record as part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report included recommendations from six countries for Ireland to bring in abortion.

Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign once again led the charge against this insidious interference and as an accredited NGO of the United Nations. It was represented by its legal consultant Caroline Simons in Geneva last week at the public session of the UN Human Rights Council prior to the publication of the draft report.

Also there was Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, representing the Government and he was questioned on a wide range of human rights related issues which the UN deemed Ireland’s record was in some way suspect. Some 60 stakeholders and NGOs made submissions to the Universal Periodic Review. The Irish Government accepted many of the recommendations in the report but rejected all the calls relating to abortion.

Commenting on Monday’s UN Human Rights Council report on Ireland, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said:

“The Pro Life Campaign welcomes the decision of the Government not to support recommendations from a number of countries for Ireland to introduce abortion. These calls for abortion legislation fly in the face of the UN’s own recent research showing that Ireland, without abortion, is a world leader in terms of safety for women in pregnancy.[1]

“Maternal safety in Ireland, it should be noted, is better than in the six countries pressurising Ireland to introduce abortion – Holland, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Norway and Spain.”

Since Mr. Shatter is someone who as an opposition politician was unambiguously in favour of Ireland introducing legislation for abortion in Ireland – and presumably personally still is – we can be very grateful that that the Irish Constitution still prohibits this legislation and will continue to do so until the people decide otherwise in a referendum. In reality, Ireland’s future generations, that is the unborn, will have to thank the Irish Pro-Life Campaign and its Trojan work to protect this provision of the Irish Constitution for their very existence. Hopefully they will be able to continue to dismantle and disarm the numerous Trojan Horses that the UN and others continue to assail them with.

[1] Report on Maternal Mortality, UN, UNFPA, World Health Organisation, 2010.