Friday, December 19, 2014

Former Northern Ireland ombudsman Nuala O'Loan resigns from BMA Medical Ethics Committee over abortion law move

The Irish Catholic reports  that Baroness Nuala O’Loan has unexpectedly resigned from a prestigious medical ethics committee over the watchdog’s support for the extension of Britain’s abortion law to the North.

Baroness O’Loan told The Irish Catholic that she could not, in conscience, remain a member of the Medical Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) as a result of the stance.

“I believe in the sanctity and sacredness of human life so I could not commit to anything inconsistent with that position. I felt I had no option but to resign,” she told The Irish Catholic.

The highly-regarded human rights lawyer and former Police Ombudsman was appointed to the committee in July, but was forced to step down after her first meeting when the committee favoured extending Britain’s controversial 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

Britain has one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the world and permits the termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks.

Britain, with 200,000 abortions each year, sees about one in five pregnancies end in abortion.

“I had to resign as I believe it is a flawed piece of legislation.

“I felt there was no scope for change even if I was to debate the decision,” Baroness O’Loan said.

The committee is made up of BMA members from a wide range of specialties and experience and lay members who are experts in their field of theology, law and moral philosophy.

The committee debates ethical issues on the relationship between the medical profession, the public and the state. It also liaises with the General Medical Council (GMC) on all matters of ethics affecting medical practice.

Baroness O’Loan said she was “disappointed” to have had to resign from the committee.

“I would have hoped to make a positive contribution to discussions particularly around end of life care and care of vulnerable persons. I just could not allow my name to be associated with this particular stance,” she said.

Mrs O’Loan’s decision comes as the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) announced plans to take the devolved government in Belfast to the high court over its re-fusal to liberalise the abortion law.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New demands for referendum in Ireland to remove all remaining protection for the unborn

Clare Daly TD in a private members Bill launched a new attack on Ireland’s remaining pro-life protection. Daly called for the repeal the 8th amendment in order to expand access to abortion in Ireland.
The eighth amendment of the Constitution, voted on in 1983, acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother’s right to life. The amendment says:
"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."
During the debate Health Minister Leo Varakdar indicated his support for a future abortion referendum and said that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitutional dealing with abortion is too “restrictive” and is having a “chilling” effect on doctors, but inexplicably claims that he is pro-life and not in favour of abortion on demand.

It seems that the Minister has either swallowed pro-abortion rhetoric hook, line and sinker or he is playing fast and loose with the truth. Whilst proclaiming that he is pro-life he has declared his support for exactly what the pro-abortionists are currently seeking.
Sadly national debate on the issue has relegated the unfortunate baby to being a non-person and seeks to remove the small modicum of protection left to him/her. 

See report in the Irish Independent

Scottish Midwives lose fight for conscientious objection to abortion

The UK Supreme Court has rejected the opportunity to uphold the right of conscientious objection for senior midwives who refuse to supervise abortions performed on a labour ward. Today's decision issued in the Supreme Court has been condemned by those who backed the Glasgow midwives' fight for their right to work in the NHS without being involved in abortions.
 Photograph shows Mary Doogan and Connie Wood with John Smeaton and Paul Tully of SPUC
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) which paid the midwives’ legal expenses throughout the case has said that senior midwives who refuse to kill babies could be forced to leave the profession.

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, the midwives in the case, commented on the judgment:
“We are both saddened and extremely disappointed with today's verdict from the Supreme Court and can only imagine the subsequent detrimental consequences that will result from today's decision on staff of conscience throughout the UK. 

“Despite it having been recognised that the number of abortions on the labour ward at our hospital is in fact a tiny percentage of the workload, which in turn could allow the accommodation of conscientious objection with minimal effort, this judgment, with its constraints and narrow interpretation, has resulted in the provision of a conscience clause which now in practice is meaningless for senior midwives on a labour ward. 
Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC said:
“The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children acknowledges the great debt that the whole pro-life community owes to Mary Doogan and Connie Wood for fighting this battle over the past seven years. They have fought not only for their own careers, but for all current and future members of the profession who uphold the right to life of everyone, from the time of conception, without discrimination. We are bitterly disappointed for them.

“Today's decision sadly makes it likely that senior midwives who refuse to kill babies will be forced to leave the profession. Junior midwives might still be able to work in labour wards where abortions are performed but they will be restricted to 'staff midwife' status at best.  They could easily be placed in an impossible situation by pro-abortion superiors, and would be unable to receive promotion to a more senior role without fear of being required to violate their consciences.  This will affect anyone who objects to abortion, of any religion or none.  It will create a second-class status in midwifery for those who only deliver babies and don't kill them.

“Furthermore, the court has used the opportunity of this case to decide that the conscience clause in the Abortion Act does not apply to General Practitioners and that hospital doctors asked to prescribe abortion drugs will not be covered by the conscience clause.  We anticipate that this will lead to renewed efforts by health officials to force doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion either to compromise their respect for human life or to leave the profession.  SPUC will support and encourage doctors to resist any such bullying approach.

“The pro-abortion lobby has long argued that conscientious objectors should be required to refer women seeking legal abortion to other practitioners.  Bodies such as the Department of Health have qualified this by saying that this only applies when the statutory grounds for a legal abortion apply, but the Supreme Court has said that any medical professional who refuses to provide an abortion should arrange for a referral to someone else who will do so. This seems to go far beyond the scope of the Abortion Act, and furthermore is not even an issue there was any need for the Court to decide in this case.

“The Court has nevertheless said that midwives and doctors with conscientious objections are obliged to refer abortion patients to colleagues who don't object to abortion.  This goes further than the General Medical Council, for instance, whose current guidance Personal Belief and Medical Practice says that doctors should refer patients to another doctor, but does not require them to check their colleague's pro-abortion credentials.”

Ireland to hold referendum on same sex 'marriage' in May

The Irish government has announced that it will proceed with a referendum on same sex 'marriage', which will be called the Marriage Equality Bill
Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed in Dail Eireann that the Cabinet had given approval for the referendum to take place along with a second referendum on lowering age for presidential candidates.
"The Cabinet gave approval to hold the referenda, and both referenda will happen on the one day in the month of May 2015. The Government did not fix a final date," he said. 
Mr Kenny added that Frances Fitzgerald, the justice minister, will come back to the Dail when she has finalised her proposals in relation to the Marriage Equality Bill.

Kenny also said the Government would move to create a Referendum Commission to oversee the holding of the two referendums.

Tanaiste Joan Burton leader of the Labour Party said the decision was a "very positive and progressive development".

Speaking at the launch of a campaign in support of marriage and the family earlier this month  Bishop Liam Mac Daid and Bishop Kevin Doran, set out the teaching of the Church on the issue. 

Allowing same-sex marriage would be a “grave injustice” and a disservice to society, according to members of a representative body for Catholic bishops in Ireland.
The Catholic Bishops of Ireland in anticipation of the Government move recently published a leaflet entitled "The Meaning of Marriage".
The statement and information on it can be found on this link

“The view of marriage as being between man and a woman and for life, that’s not something which is particular to Catholics and Christians. There are people of all kinds of other religious beliefs, and of none, who believe in that,” said Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, who is chair of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference council for marriage.

 “To put any other view of marriage on the same level as Christian marriage would be a disservice to society rather than a service,” added Bishop MacDaid, who was flanked by fellow bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin following a two-day winter conference in St Patrick’s College.

“While there’s sort of an assumption that this referendum [passing] is a no-brainer, in some societies the legislature has legislated for same-sex marriage, but in other societies- almost everywhere there has been a same-sex referendum- it has been rejected… Our hope would be that the referendum would be defeated,” said Bishop Doran, who courted publicity last week for his concessionary stance on inheritance rights for same-sex couples.