THE CATHOLIC HERALD SEPTEMBER 2 2011
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Pro-life group alarmed by Government proposal BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A LEADING pro-life pressure group has voiced alarm at Government proposals that claim to ensure more independent counselling for women considering an abortion.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) expressed scepticism about proposals by the Department of Health which would place an obligation on abortion providers to offer women counselling by groups which do not carry out abortions.
SPUC has described the presentation of the development as a victory as “dangerously misleading” due to the “close commercial relationship” between the Department of Health and abortion providers.
Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said: “Handing the drafting of proposals relating to abortion to the Department of Health is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken-coop.
“The Department of Health commissions the vast majority of abortions in Britain, and says doctors should provide abortion on demand. Successive governments have regarded abortion as an answer to unmarried teenagers and other vulnerable women who get pregnant.
“Since 2004, most NHS abortions have been transferred to private clinics, and the health department now funds more than nine out of 10 abortions at these clinics. If the department now wants counsellors to help pregnant women avoid abortions, it would represent a major change of heart. We remain very wary of the proposals and the department’s involvement.”
The announcement follows the tabling of an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which would prevent abortion providers from offering crisis pregnancy counselling. Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries, who has also championed abstinence education in schools, is the main architect of the contentious amendment. Writing for the Guardian online she said: “The only place a woman can receive pre- or post-abortion counselling paid for by the state is from an abortion provider who has a clear financial interest in the ultimate decision the woman makes. Often women have to return to the abortion clinic where the procedure took place to receive their distress counselling. What caring person can believe that to be right?”
Mrs Dorries has insisted she will push ahead with her amendment and has refused to be “bought off” by the promise of a Government consultation. The Department for
Health is expected to implement their proposed reforms irrespective of the success of Mrs Dorries’s amendment.
But SPUC points out that the department is expected to dictate who would qualify as a pregnancy counsellor and what expectant mothers must be told.
Mrs Dorries has also made clear that, just as abortion providers should be ruled out of independent counselling services for pregnant women, so should pro-life counsellors under her proposed system.
Niall Gooch, a spokesman for the pregnancy counselling charity Life, said: “We would be opposed to any attempt to restrict our services on the grounds that they are not independent. We do believe that our service, like other non-profit crisis pregnancy centres, are genuinely independent and do offer a valuable service to women, not least because they are separated from the abortion clinic conveyorbelt ‘process’, which many women find impersonal and inadequate, and which women often describe as not offering real choice or the opportunity for long-term counselling and support.
“We have no financial incentive in the decisions made by our clients; we do not attempt to direct their decision-making.”
The proposals have been received positively among some pro-life groups, however. The All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, chaired by Labour MP Jim Dobbin, has broadly welcomed the Government’s announcement.
Ed Rennie, clerk to the group, said: “Although some of those involved in this initiative are not pro-life we obviously welcome anything that would remove preabortion counselling from the hands of abortion providers. For many years we have argued for the ending of the monetary gains made through the exploitation of vulnerable women by the abortion industry.” Editorial Comment: Page 13
Bishop tells youth: faith overcomes life’s storms
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
BISHOP Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has encouraged young Catholics to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and remain faithful to the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI in order to discern God’s will for their lives.
Bishop Davies addressed at least 800 pilgrims at the Youth 2000 Festival, “Live at Walsingham”, when he invited them to anchor themselves securely in the truths of the Catholic faith and reception of the sacraments when trying to discern whether they had a vocation to marriage, the priesthood or consecrated life.
Throughout his homily, he referred to a storm at World Youth Day in Madrid on the night of the prayer vigil led by Pope Benedict. He commended the Pope’s courage in weathering the storm and continuing with Eucharistic Adoration once it had calmed.
Bishop Davies said: “As you consider your own call in the morning of your lives, how you are to give your life when there may seem many a storm around marriage and family, around priesthood and consecrated life, making such commitments seem to some around us almost impossible, then think on that parable of World Youth Day 2011, the lesson Pope Benedict asked us not to forget, of how we stand together with Peter’s Successor in the joy of our faith even when the wind is blowing, the rain pouring down because we fix our eyes on Jesus truly present with us in the Eucharist.”
“Yes, there will come moments when the brightness of a summer day may turn to sudden storms, when scandals come, when familiar patterns of parish life are shaken, when like the young prophet Jeremiah this morning you experience ‘insult, derision all the day long’, when like Simon Peter you are tempted to rebel against suffering at the hands of others, ‘Heaven, preserve you, Lord this must not happen to you’, when we find ourselves thinking no longer in God’s way but man’s.
“Then listen to Pope Benedict’s words in Madrid:‘The Church needs you, and you need the Church’. We need to stand together with the Church, to stand with Peter’s Successor, the Pope, and so through every storm when we are tempted like Jeremiah or Simon Peter to run from our difficulties, the threats and fears around us then to fix our eyes on Jesus.
“ ‘I now ask you,’ Pope Benedict wanted to say to the young that night in Madrid, ‘to abide in the adoration of Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. I ask you to enter into conversation with him, to bring before him your questions and to listen to his voice’.”
Pilgrims walk in procession at the Youth 2000 festival
Photo courtesy of Youth 2000
Equality quango snubs Catholic sacked by NHS BY SIMON CALDWELL
THE STATE equality watchdog is facing fresh accusations of discrimination against Christians after it refused to back a claim by a mental health worker that she was “bullied out a job” after showing prolife literature to a colleague.
Margaret Forrester is suing the NHS for unfair dismissal after she was sacked for gross professional misconduct.
She is also using equality and human rights laws on freedom of religion and free speech to sue the Central and North West London NHS Trust for “direct and indirect religious discrimination, direct and indirect belief and discrimination, and harassment on the basis of religion and belief”.
But her application for legal aid has been thrown out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
monious, bigoted, hypocritical and anti-Christian organisation which regards the public money it has as a means to pursue its own prejudices”.
“The Commission has never backed a religious freedom or religious discrimination case financially,” said Mr Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre.
“That raises real questions about its impartiality and whether the Commission is itself acting in a discriminatory way,” he added.
The Commission, a quango which was set up in 2007 to oversee the implementation of equality laws, receives tens of millions of pounds of public funds every year.
Although it has never supported any of the numerous cases of harassment, discrimination, and sackings of Christians it has, however, funded cases against them.
The Commission argues that Miss Forrester, 40, of London, has no case because she was not required by the tenets of her Catholic faith to speak to work colleagues about the sanctity of human life.
It put its financial might, for instance, behind the successful legal action against Peter and Hazelmary Bull, Christian B&B owners who turned away a gay couple seeking a double room in their home.
“She may need to establish that it was a requirement of her faith that she should circulate material of the kind that she did in order to establish the particular disadvantage,” said Keith Ashcroft, a senior lawyer to the Commission.
“My view is that she will have great difficulty in doing so.”
But Neil Addison, the lawyer representing Miss Forrester, said the response confirmed his view that the Commission was a “sancti
Although it refuses to recognise the traditional belief of many Christians that human life is sacred from the moment of conception it has claimed that veganism is a belief that should be protected by law.
The decision by the Commission comes in spite of NHS lawyers conceding, in legal documents, that Miss Forrester’s convictions on the sanctity of human life constituted a “philosophical belief” protected by the Equality Act 2010.
Vaughan Parents’ Action Group
Professor the Lord Alton, Professor Philip Booth, Professor David Crystal, Professor Felipe Fernandez -Armesto,
Patti Fordyce, Professor Luke Gormally, Michael Gormally, Lord Grantley, Paul Johnson, Sir Paul Kennedy QC, Edward Leigh MP, Lord Lexden, Colin Mawby, Charles Moore, Professor Judith Mossman, Cristina Odone, Professor Thomas Pink, Piers Paul Read, Dr John Martin Robinson, Dr Richard Shephard, Anthony Speaight QC, Sir Swinton Thomas QC, Dr Ralph Townsend, Professor Mark Watson-Gandy, Ann Widdecombe
AN HOUR OF PRAYER
THE CARDINAL VAUGHAN MEMORIAL SCHOOL
7 p.m. on Thursday 15th September
Westminster Cathedral Piazza
The Vaughan Parents’ Action Group invites parents, past pupils, friends and supporters to an hour of prayer and hymns and to help us to present our petition to Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
We petition His Grace:
• to nominate two current parents as Foundation Governors of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School; • to advise and encourage his nominees on the Governing Body to conduct the selection process of a new Head so as to bring about an appointment that will command the support not just of the Archbishop’s nominees but also of other sections across the unhappily divided Governing Body.
The Vaughan’s success has always depended on dedicated teachers supported wholeheartedly by Catholic parents. The hostile actions of the Westminster Diocese Education Service – in particular the imposition of its own Director, Paul Barber, on the Governing Body – threaten to undermine this harmonious and fruitful collaboration. Vaughan parents chose the School for its distinctive and unambiguously Catholic ethos. They want it to be cherished and protected. This is why they do not want a new Head to be selected while they are still under-represented on the Governing Body.
THE NEW HEAD WILL BE APPOINTED IN OCTOBER. This Hour of Prayer may be our last opportunity before then to show Archbishop
Nichols just how worried we are about the future of our wonderful School. Please see our website for further details or if you wish to sign our on line petition : www.savethevaughan.com
Government adviser calls for assisted suicide
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A GOVERNMENT adviser on dementia is facing severe criticism after he called for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Martin Green claimed that patients who were too frail to take their own lives were being robbed of “choice” and “autonomy” because assisted suicide is prohibited under British law.
Mr Green suggested that the issue should be settled by a referendum or a free vote in Parliament and urged Ministers to review the law.
Lord Alton of Liverpool has now written to Health Minister, Earl Howe, demanding clarification of Mr Green’s remarks in the Daily Telegraph.
“This newspaper statement by your department’s adviser on issues affecting the elderly ignores two House of Lords select committee inquiries into assisted dying, along with two free votes: presumably because they reached a conclusion with which he disagrees,” Lord Alton wrote.
“Would you please let me know whether Mr Green’s view represents the Government’s position and whether there are any departmental advisers who reflect Parliament’s view – one which is shared by the British Medical Association, the hospice movement, disability rights groups and most of the Royal
Colleges?” Lord Alton’s concerns were echoed by Lord Carlile of Berriew, chairman of the research think-tank Living and Dying Well, which opposes a change in the law.
He said: “Mr Green made his comments from a very privileged position: he is an adviser to the Government. Some may take him to have been speaking in that position. In effect he has called for the legalisation of both assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, subject to appropriate safeguards.
“He has offered no insight into what he regards as such safeguards, and has ignored repeated votes in the House of Lords reflecting the strongly held majority opinion that no remotely satisfactory safeguarding system has been produced by anybody, not even the former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who is one of the foremost campaigners for a change in the law.”
The Society for the Protect ion of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called for the sacking of Mr Green.
SPUC’s general secretary Paul Tully said: “A man with these views has no place advising the Government on health policy, and is a disgrace to the English Community Care Association. Mr Green ...is clearly not interested in caring for some dementia sufferers.”
EAST AFRICA CRISIS
Ten million people are facing a devastating drought in East Africa. Very poor rains have led to crop failure, serious food and water shortages and the deaths of tens of thousands of animals in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. With no rain expected until September, the situation can only get worse. The UN says that in some regions the drought is the worst in years. We urgently need your support to get life-saving aid to people now.
Please make a donation today. Your gift will help to provide life-saving food for the most vulnerable, as well as water-points, medicine and emergency support for families whose animals are dying.
Please give to the East Africa Crisis Appeal. Your help WILL reach people who need it most.
cafod.org.uk/eastafrica or call
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