Newsletter Volume 7, No 4 April 4, 2013
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy. PNCI is a global outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries
PNCI website includes global headlines, news alerts, archived newsletters, and information on critical life issues.
New 3D Ultrasound Software Details Baby’s Smiles
New ultrasound software now provides parents and doctors with clear images of the unborn baby. Developed by Dr Bernard Benoit of the Princes Grace Hospital, Monaco, the software enhances traditional 3D scans by adding color, skin texture, lighting and shadows. Parents are able to see their baby’s face before birth, and in 4D witness them smiling and kicking in-utero.
UN Delegates Insist on Recognition of National Laws
Recognition of the sovereignty of national laws on abortion was critical to many countries during the recent 57th Commission on the Status of Women which met on the urgent theme “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. Negotiations were long and labored as some countries led by the US and the European Union attempted to use CSW as a vehicle to further the radical agenda, detracting from the noble goal of finding ways to protect girls and women from the violence that impacts their lives every day.
The final non-binding Agreed Conclusions consisted of a “chairman’s text” created by a select few owing to intense differences among countries on life and family issues. Among the concerns highlighted in the conclusions, the Commission condemned forced abortion which inflicts horrific cruelty and violence on millions of Chinese women yearly but failed to protest sex selective abortion- the very beginning of gender based violence- which has destroyed the lives of millions and millions of the youngest of girls.
Regrettably, embraced in the final conclusions are undefined problematic terms–reproductive rights, reproductive health and reproductive health centers–which are interpreted by some donor governments, pro-abortion NGOs and UN agencies to include access to abortion despite the fact that such terms have never been defined to include a “right to abortion” in any UN negotiated document or binding treaty.
In the context of addressing the “physical, mental and sexual and reproductive health consequences” of violence against women and girls, the conclusions also contained direct support for abortion in urging for the provision of “accessible health-care services” including “safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law”.
A number of countries with pro-life laws and restrictions insisted on the inclusion of the recognition of sovereignty and national laws on abortion in order to protect their laws banning or restricting abortion and to counter pro-abortion pressure. In addition, these countries relied on references that reproductive rights would be “in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”; para 8.25 states: “Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”
PNCI recommends that pro-life lawmakers monitor the recommendations made to their countries by UN treaty monitoring bodies, the HRC and by rapporteurs during country reviews to see which laws and policies on abortion are targeted for change, ingoring a country’s right to sovereignty according to the ICPD. A link to select a country’s database of UN documents can be found on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Holy See, Defended and Attacked at CSW
The Holy See delegation to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was a source of irritation and vexation for radical pro-abortion organizations which sought to discredit the Holy See’s long standing support for women and minimize its influence at the United Nations. A number of negative news articles and editorials, including The New York Times, assisted the smear campaign.
The newly formed Catholic Women’s Forum (CWF) issued a statement in response to the egregious falsehoods against the Holy See’s delegation, reiterating the Holy See’s opposition to violence against women while taking exception with disruptive actions to advance a radical social agenda, “It is discouraging when these types of maneuvers sidetrack the work of combating violence against women.”
“CWF takes pride in Catholic education, healthcare, social services, and intellectual contributions to the empowerment of women across the globe. Such empowerment is one of the surest tools for preventing violence against women.” The CWF statement was supported by non-governmental organizations from around the world.
In a related side event, Erika Bachiochi, member of CWF, presented “Why U.N. Feminists Should Want to Partner with the Holy See” articulating the message that religion”is a powerful ally for promoting the equality and dignity of women”.
She took issue with the radical tactic to discredit religion and the enabling of such a view by news agencies stating that such actions help to “undermine the important and positive role religion plays in the lives of millions across the globe.” Ms. Bachiochi spoke against “the old guard feminist view of religion” calling it “tiring” and contrary to current data that demonstrates that religion has what the authors of one study called a “protective effect” against domestic violence.
In conclusion, Ms. Bachiochi stated, “Christianity’s conception of the human person as endowed by God with inherent dignity regardless of sex, race, or social circumstance, promotes respect and harmony between the sexes. This effect Christianity has upon men is a powerful asset in the worldwide fight against domestic violence. Rather than see religious belief and practice as an impediment to authentic sexual equality, it behooves us to see it for what it can be: a powerful and transformative means to bring peace to peoples, families, and especially to men.”
Bachiochi is the author of the book Women, Sex and the Church and her article “Embodied Equality: Debunking Equal Protection Arguments for Abortion Rights” was published in Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.
Organization of American States
Radical Activists Dominate IACHR Hearings
Laws that protect pre-born children and their mothers from the violence of abortion came under attack during recent hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (OACHR) at the Organization of American States (OAS). Six of the seven commissioners heard testimony from civil society which requested the hearings to agitate for support from the IACHR for the radical agenda. Colombia was one of the countries targeted by pro-abortion activists who continue to push for a broader application of the 2006 Colombian Court decision in the case brought by Monica Roa of Women’s Link Worldwide.
Abortion laws in Nicaragua and El Salvador were the subject of two additional hearings while a fourth hearing dealt with the status of abortion laws in South America, with activists claiming abortion is a human right. Other radical hearings focused on the homosexual agenda. Women’s Link Worldwide and Ipas Central America were the two leading pro-abortion organizations which described laws against the violence of abortion as “violating women’s rights to health, equality, non-discrimination, privacy and due process of law”. The organizations also asked the Commission to urge states to decriminalize abortion and “enact policies that increase women’s access to abortion in cases permitted by law”.
In regards to Nicaragua, Ipas Central America charged that without access to abortion when a pregnancy is conceived in rape, women are denied access to justice. The argument that pro-life laws deny women access to justice is being replicated by pro-abortion activists globally.
The commissioners who were present for the hearings were supportive of the pro-abortion arguments and urged the organizations to continue their work and provide the Commission with additional information. IACHR President José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez of Mexico expressed the view that while abortion is not yet a human right, it is a human right that is evolving and must be supported during that process. Hearings areavailable on webcast archives.
International Pressure for Abortion
Promoting and Performing Abortion Globally for 40 Years
Forty years ago abortion was legalized in the US and one of the leading international pro-abortion organizations was founded. Ipas, International Projects Assistance Services, was founded to advance abortion technology around the world including through its trademark handheld abortion device, the manual vacuum aspirator (MVA) and now through the use of abortion pills.
In marking 40 years, Ipas boasts of “200,000 high-quality uterine evacuation procedures at Ipas-supported health-care facilities in fiscal year 2012 alone”; “state-of-the-art clinical training for more than 10,000 health-care professionals annually ” and “Enough reusable Ipas manual vacuum aspirators distributed worldwide in 2008-2012 to serve 20 million women”.
Support for abortion is limited around the world with many more countries restricting abortion than allowing for abortion on demand. To counter this, Ipas developed training in “values clarification” and has conducted “1,000 transformational values clarification sessions in more than 32 countries since 2002.”
Lawmakers, especially those serving in health ministries, need to be alert to the pro-abortion agenda of Ipas which seeks to overturn laws against abortion. It statesthat it “has worked with ministries of health and other partners in more than 20 countries to produce abortion-related standards and guidelines and other guidance documents and continues to provide technical assistance in these and other countries on an ongoing basis.”
Ipas has successfully maneuvered its way to act as health care experts and advisors to governments in 25 countries and has managed projects and programs in countries with strict pro-life laws including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Malta.
Northern Ireland: Legislation to Stop Abortion Clinic Fails
An amendment to ban abortions in private cliqnqicsfailed to pass Northern Ireland’s National Assembly, permitting a Marie Stopes International clinic in Belfast to continue to operate. The amendment by DUP’s Paul Givan and the SDLP’s Alban Maginness was a response to the opening of a Marie Stopes International (MSI) clinic in Belfast last fall and MSI’s notoriety for performing illegal abortions around the world through the use of abortion inducing drugs. Mr. Givan as chairman of the Assembly’s Justice Committee and co-sponsor of the amendment argued that abortion for the legal exceptions should only be performed within the National Health System where there exists the “highest level of scrutiny”.
He stated, “Across the island of Ireland, we have a common bond in seeking to provide the best care for our mothers and unborn babies. The NHS is where vulnerable women and their unborn babies should be treated, not a private clinic making financial gain. It ensures that in terrible life-threatening circumstances the best care is provided – free.”
While the legislation had the support of 53 MPs, it failed to secure the cross party majority it needed to pass having been blocked by Sinn Fein while strongly supported by the Democratic Unionist Party. According to news reports, MSI clinic management in Belfast claim to follow the current law and “only carry out medical abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation”, a point Health Minister Edwin Poots questioned in floor debate. “The problem is nobody knows if the law is being breached because Marie Stopes is operating under a cloud of darkness. We could have stopped it but some people decided they would have a petition of concern to allow that business to carry on their practice under that cloak of darkness where nobody can hold them to account.”
Pat Ramsey, of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, which co-authored the amendment, said: “The right to human life takes precedent over every other right” and Patsy McGlone argued: “The pro-abortion lobby is keen to push the boundaries of the law on the issue. Many suspect that that is the motivation behind the sudden appearance of a Marie Stopes International clinic.”
Anna Lo of the Alliance Party opposed the amendment and described the proposed changes as “manipulative” stating, “MLAs should make decisions [based] on pragmatism, not on religious belief.”
Pro-abortion activists of the Alliance for Choice sent a letter against the amendment signed by 100 individuals, including women who revealed that they had either taken abortion-inducing drugs or helped someone to obtain the drugs which are available over the internet. A legal investigation is underway.
Canada: Committee Blocks Motion Condemning Sex Selection Abortion
Canada’s Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) has determined a motion condemning sex-selection abortion cannot be voted on by the House of Commons. Sponsored by MP Mark Warawa, M-408 states, “That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.” Following a decision by a Subcommittee that the legislation was non-votable, Warawa had appealed to the committee to permit the motionto be debated by MPs. Deeply disappointed with the committee’s ruling, Warawa is now considering his next step. “Renewed and concerted efforts are needed by governments and civil society to address the deeply rooted gender discrimination which lies at the heart of sex selection,” said Warawa.
According to the United Nations, 200 million women and girls are missing as a result of gendercide and a recent poll showed 92% of Canadians condemn the practice of sex selection. ”
Pope Francis Addresses Diplomats, Warns of “Tyranny of Relativism”
Prior to his Inauguration, Pope Francis addressed the many diplomats and official delegations present for the Papal Mass explaining why he chose the name of Francis of Assisi. He spoke about the need to care for the poor and the work that the Church does around the world to help alleviate suffering and to make society more humane and more just. The Holy Father addressed the spiritual poverty of our time, the “tyranny of relativism” which “makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples”.
He explained the second reason for his name is “Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.”
Pope Francis expounded on the his role as “a builder of bridges with God and between people” and his wish to have dialogue with countries and between places and cultures in order to create authentic fraternity as the world becomes more interdependent. He highlighted the fundamental role of religion explaining that it is not possible to build bridges between people without God and spoke of the need for inter-religious dialogue.
The Pope’s words come at a critical time as relativism is leading to the “evolution of human rights” where the killing of the preborn child in abortion is called a “woman’s human right”. Actions to eliminate the critical role of religious values are also underway at the United Nations and around the world prompting greater urgency for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in acongratulatory message to Pope Francis said that they must act together to defend persecuted Christians in some parts of the world and promote traditional values against secularism.
Colombia: High Court Strikes Down Decree Mandating Hospitals Perform Abortions
In the ongoing battle over Colombia’s 2006 Constitutional Court decision permitting abortion for limited exceptions, Colombia’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has ruled against a regulatory decree requiring that the country’s hospitals perform abortions. Decree 4444, issued by the Ministry of Social Protection in 2006 under President Alvaro Uribe, sought to implement a Constitutional Court decision mandating hospitals perform abortions in cases of rape, fetal deformity and life of the mother.
The Council of State had suspended the decree in 2009 to assess its constitutionality and now has ruled the decree illegal. The court said implementing guidelines can only be issued for laws passed by the General Assembly, not the Court. Since the 2009 suspension of the decree, there has not been any legislation to mandate hospitals perform abortions.
Philippines: Supreme Court Suspends RH Law
The Supreme Court of the Philippines has temporarily stopped the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law. The controversial law, signed into being by President Aquino in late 2012, has been strongly opposed by pro-life advocates and the Catholic Church due to its promotion of contraceptives and abortifacients. The Court’s decision, by a vote of 10-5, suspended the law’s implementation from March 31, 2013 for 120 days, pending consideration in court beginning June 18.
Human Life International’s country director in the Philippines, Dr. Rene Bullecer, and Regional Director for Asia, Dr. Ligaya Acosta, celebrated the ruling and renewed efforts to oppose the law. “With this development, we need to regroup our forces and focus on the election of pro-life candidates for Senate and Congress in the crucial May 13 elections,” said Dr. Bullecer. “If we can elect more pro-life lawmakers, we are assured of the repeal of the RH Law should the June 18 arguments not go our way, and are assured blockage of the proposed divorce, abortion and gay union laws which are set to be filed once the 16th Congress opens in July.”
China’s One-Child Policy = 336 Million Abortions
The Chinese health ministry has released data showing 336 million abortions have been carried out under the one-child policy. The barbaric population control policy rendering siblings illegal was instituted in 1979 and has since been enforced through coercion, debilitating fines, harassment, and violence–including beatings and forced abortions–against women and their families. According to the Chinese government, there are more than 13 million abortions a year, or 1,500 an hour.
Human rights advocate U.S. Congressman Chris Smithhas repeatedly criticized the one-child policy. “A cruel and inhumane policy, a human rights violation that is–in scope and seriousness–the worst human rights abuse in the world today. No other government policy anywhere else in the world systematically punishes, abuses, and violates women so grossly as this,” said Smith. The one-child policy has also resulted in a skewed birth ratio of 120 boys born for every 100 girls.
UK Government Panel Approves “3 Parent” Embryos
The “taking, making and faking of human life” has reached an unprecedented level as Great Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which oversees fertility treatments and embryo research, has approved fertility procedures that result in the use of genetic material from two mothers and one father. The rationale behind the envisioned fertility procedure is to create “embryos free from mitochondrial defects which can give rise to serious diseases and defects after birth.”
Jennifer Lahl, President of the Center for Bioethics andCulture Network and Gene Tarne, senior analyst for theCharlotte Lozier Institute, have written about the new procedure and included a detailed analysis. The article includes the following explanation:
“To achieve this, researchers use a cloning technique called pro-nuclear transfer (PNT): the father’s sperm is used to fertilize the mother’s egg which contains the defective mitochondria, creating one embryo. However, a second egg from a donor, containing healthy mitochondria, is also fertilized, producing a second embryo. The nuclei from both embryos are removed, thus destroying them both. The nucleus from the embryo with the defective mtDNA is placed in the de-nucleated embryo “shell” with the healthy mtDNA. The resulting third embryo, which is then implanted in the mother, thus has genetic materials from two mothers and one father, thus the phrase “three-parent embryo”