Thaddeus Baklinski

‘Biased,’ ‘seriously flawed’: Pro-life groups slam UK report calling for assisted suicide

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski
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LONDON, January 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The report of a UK commission which said assisted suicide should be legalized, has been strongly criticized by UK groups opposed to changes in the law, who charge the “self-appointed” commission with producing a report that is blatantly biased and flawed.

The commission was chaired by Lord Charles Falconer, who was Lord Chancellor under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the leader of a cadre in Parliament who ardently campaigned to legalize assisted suicide. It was composed almost exclusively of euthanasia and assisted suicide advocates.

The commission concluded that assisted suicide should be legalized for persons over 18, who are mentally competent, terminally ill and diagnosed as having less than 12 months to live, and making a voluntary choice.

The BBC reports that only one commissioner, Reverend Dr. James Woodward, an Anglican priest and Canon of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, disagreed with the conclusions of the report

A statement issued Thursday by Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle and spokesman on health care topics for the Church of England, said the commission excluded anyone who objected to legalizing assisted suicide, and the report “singularly failed” to provide evidence that vulnerable people would be protected under the new proposals.

“The ‘Commission on Assisted Dying’ is a self-appointed group that excluded from its membership anyone with a known objection to assisted suicide. In contrast, the majority of commissioners, appointed personally by Lord Falconer, were already in favour of changing the law to legitimize assisted suicide. Lord Falconer has, himself, been a leading proponent for legitimizing assisted suicide, for some years,” Bishop Newcome wrote.

The commission was set up under the auspices of the assisted suicide advocacy group “Dignity in Dying,” and was funded by author Sir Terry Pratchett, who last year produced and starred in a pro-assisted suicide documentary entitled “Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.”

In the film Pratchett accompanies a man, known only as “Peter,” who suffers from motor neurone disease, as his health declines and he chooses to take his life at the Dignitas “clinic” in Zurich, Switzerland.

“I am a firm believer in assisted death,” said Pratchett, who suffers from a rare form of early Alzheimer’s. “I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death. And I wanted to know more about Dignitas in case I ever wanted to go there myself.”

Pratchett filmed “Peter” in his last hours and taking his own life, with Pratchett looking on.

While assisting in a suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, in 2010 guidelines were introduced instructing the judiciary not to prosecute individuals to help a family member to kill themselves at facilities such as the Dignitas “clinic.”

“The commission undertook a quest to find effective safeguards that could be put in place to avoid abuse of any new law legitimising assisted suicide,” the Church of England statement condemning the commission said. “Unsurprisingly, given the commission’s composition, it has claimed to have found such safeguards.”

However, the Church, Bishop Newcome wrote, is “unconvinced that the commission has been successful in its quest.”

“It has singularly failed to demonstrate that vulnerable people are not placed at greater risk under its proposals than is currently the case under present legislation. In spite of the findings of research that it commissioned, it has failed adequately to take into account the fact that in all jurisdictions where assisted suicide or euthanasia is permitted, there are breaches of safeguards as well as notable failures in monitoring and reporting.”

“Put simply, the most effective safeguard against abuse is to leave the law as it is.  What Lord Falconer has done is to argue that it is morally acceptable to put many vulnerable people at increased risk so that the aspirations of a small number of individuals, to control the time, place and means of their deaths, might be met. Such a calculus of risk is unnecessary and wholly unacceptable,” Bishop Newcome concluded.

Dr. Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing anti-euthanasia group, agreed with the Church of England statement.

“This investigation was unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency and its report is seriously flawed. It is being spun as a comprehensive, objective and independent review into this complicated issue. It is anything but,” Dr. Saunders stated.

“What the commission is proposing is a less safe version of the highly controversial Oregon law, which sees the terminally ill offered drugs to kill themselves, but not expensive lifesaving and life-extending drugs,” he said in a statement. “Its so-called ‘proposed safeguards’ are paper-thin and have already been rejected three times in the last six years by British parliaments. These recommendations if implemented will place vulnerable people under increased pressure to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. The so-called right to die can so easily become the duty to die.”

Dr. Phil Friend, OBE, who along with Baroness Jane Campbell, DBE, and Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick, OBE, have established the “Not Dead Yet” UK campaign (http://www.notdeadyetuk.org/) to prevent a change in the law on assisted dying, said, “There isn’t a route to ‘safely’ offer a choice of assisted dying to people, whatever the criteria.”

Not Dead Yet have launched The Resistance Charter campaign, which, along with a petition campaign, seeks to highlight disabled and terminally ill people’s fears and to ensure legislation prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia remains in place.

The director of Belfast’s pro-life group Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth, said the report on “Assisted Dying” is another attack on the dignity of the weak and vulnerable, adding that the situation must never arise where the terminally-ill, disabled, or the elderly feel pressured by society to end their lives.

“This report released by the ‘Commission on Assisted Dying’ is part of a strategy to convince the public that elderly, disabled, or terminally-ill people are better off dead,” Smyth stated in a press release.

“This is part of the ‘culture of death’ that is attempting to change attitudes in society, to where killing the weak and vulnerable becomes normal and acceptable. So-called “Assisted Dying” - which is only a sugarcoated name for killing - is contrary to the dignity of the human person and therefore totally unacceptable.”

“Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect and should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible, not killed!” Smyth concluded.

The text of the “Commission on Assisted Dying” report is available here.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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