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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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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