Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Dear England, I’m very confused. Is abortion a ‘woman’s choice’ or is it ‘morally repugnant’?

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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Dear England,

I won’t ask if you are doing well, because I read the news every day and I already know. But I hope you will be well enough to help me clarify a few things that have appeared in the news in the last day or so that have confused me.

Yesterday, it seems everyone flew into a tizzy because the Daily Telegraph reported that abortion facilities are allowing women to abort their children if the child is the “wrong” sex. The papers and politicians are saying that “sex-selective abortion” is illegal and “morally wrong.” In fact, the whole business has upset everyone so much that Scotland Yard is now involved.

But I’m afraid I just don’t understand, England. Hadn’t you accepted the abortionist movement’s assertion that abortion is always a “woman’s choice”? Isn’t it supposed to be entirely a “private decision between the woman and her doctor”? I had understood that you believe it is the woman’s choice alone that makes the act “moral.”

Yet here we have one of your elected officials, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, saying yesterday, “sex-selective abortion is morally wrong” because it isn’t on the list of accepted reasons. Today he wrote in The Telegraph: “Carrying out an abortion on the grounds of gender alone is in my view morally repugnant.”

Do I understand this correctly? It is morally wrong to kill someone specifically because she is a girl (and I am going to assume specifically because he is a boy, though this seems never to be mentioned out loud), but you can certainly kill a girl because you just don’t really feel like having a child at all, of either sex.

Or, as the law currently permits, if the girl is suspected of being “severely handicapped”? To clarify: it is morally wrong to kill a child specifically because she is female, but not morally wrong to kill a child who has Down’s syndrome, but just happens to be female at the same time?  Or, to look at it another way, is it “morally repugnant,” as Mr. Lansley says, to kill a female child who, let us say, has a cleft palate or a club foot and who also happens to be female if your reason is not a loathing of these malformations but a loathing of female children? This seems odd because the end result is precisely the same.

Quite honestly, I’m surprised you are bothered. It seemed that after a few troubled nights, the whole issue of killing children for their disabilities really just didn’t seem to worry you too much at all.

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I would like to ask you, and Mr. Lansley, according to what criteria is an act “morally wrong”? What possible difference does it make to anyone what reason is given on the forms? Isn’t the whole point of legalized abortion to allow women to kill their children? If we have established that it is ever morally permissible to do this, does it matter so very much why they want to?

England, you say that the woman has to have, or, more to the point, has to say she has the correct, socially approved reasons. But if you have accepted that a woman can kill her child, that in some cases doing so is even a meritorious act, how does this killing ever become “morally repugnant” if it is carried out for some reason that does not make the current list of socially approved reasons?

Also, could I ask, England, who makes this list? Where does it come from? How are the criteria for “morally repugnant” and illegal and the criteria for legal and meritorious decided?

It certainly doesn’t come from your ancient Christian heritage, that says deliberate killing of an innocent is morally wrong all by itself, whatever the reason given. Nor does it come from your 1000 years of jurisprudence that established civil liberties based on the person’s inherent rights as a human being. It also doesn’t come from traditional medical ethics, the ancient cornerstone of which is “Do no harm” to anyone, mother or child, and which specifies that no doctor can give a woman a “pessary to cause an abortion”.

At the risk of sounding impertinent, where did you get the idea that abortion is acceptable under any circumstances? Who exactly told you that? And why did you suddenly decide to believe it?

If the list of morally acceptable reasons for abortion is derived from the general social opinion, what happens if and when that changes? What if you, England, become a society dominated by a culture that thinks it is not the least bit “morally repugnant” to kill girls before or after birth? Will this mean that it is still, objectively, immoral? Will you change the law?

Once you have established that a woman can kill her unborn child, what is the point of maintaining any sort of pretense of moral outrage if the reason for killing is not to your personal liking or the personal liking of your politicians? Why retain these oddly archaic, traditional moral restrictions at all? Does this not seem somewhat contradictory?

The Telegraph’s video clip of a Dr. Raj approving an abortion more or less sums up the whole problem. The pregnant woman tells Dr. Raj, “I want to kill this child because she’s a girl…” What happens next?

“Is that the reason?” Dr Raj asks. “That’s not fair. It’s like female infanticide isn’t it?”

The solution becomes clear in an instant: simply put down some other reason. Dr. Raj says, “I’ll put too young for pregnancy, yeah?” Because everyone in that room, including Dr. Raj and the Telegraph reporter, knows that these regulations are a farce.

Clearly the difficulty you are having, England, is that while abortion comes with a moral framework that admits of no exceptions, politicians know that that framework is not accepted by the general public, which views it as “morally repugnant.” The trick so far to keeping everything going has been to never talk about it. Never let anyone ask the kind of questions I have asked above.

The Telegraph tells us, “The disclosures are likely to lead to growing pressure for pregnant women considering an abortion to be offered independent counseling”. And Mr. Lansley has said that there will be a “public consultation” on the issue. So it seems we are, at last, going to talk about it.

This seems like a good idea, but I wonder if we are clear about what, exactly, the consultation will ask the public? Mr. Lansley seems to think it is only a matter of women receiving “independent counseling”. “All women seeking an abortion should have the opportunity, if they so choose, to discuss at length and in detail with a professional their decision and the impact it may have,” he says.

But who is going to do this counseling? The staff and operators of these abortion “charities” whose six-figure salaries depend upon abortion? Or independent psychologists who start with the premise that there is nothing morally wrong with killing an unborn child?

Is this what you consider objective and impartial, England? Because it seems that anyone expressing any sort of opposition to the sexual revolution’s values, is likely to automatically be disqualified.

But I wonder, England, are you really ready to face the results of such a public discussion? You are clearly ill at ease with things as they are now. You seem to want to keep the new mores of the sexual revolution operating, while being at the same time deeply conflicted about the direction that ideology is taking you.

Either way, it seems that we are getting close to the time when you will have to decide which way you want to go. These contradictions can no longer be hidden, even from those most determined to ignore rampaging elephants.

Dearest England, if there is to be a consultation, I do hope that you will not hesitate to ask the questions I have asked above. Should you ever feel the need to revert back to your previous moral convictions – that something that is “morally wrong” is so because of the nature of the act itself, and not because it contravenes the strictures of some ephemeral social trend – please be assured of my whole-hearted support, and that of many more who love you tenderly.

I remain your devoted friend,
Hilary White

 


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities," Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. "Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

"While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born," she said. "Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection."

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, "People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society."

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the "difficult and confusing time" when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience "negative attitudes."

"What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information," the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the church they attend in New Jersey, "because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey , 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

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President George Bush takes the ice bucket challenge in a video released this week.
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What’s wrong with the viral ‘ice bucket challenge’? A lot, say pro-life leaders

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By Dustin Siggins

Pro-life leaders in the U.S. are warning about ethical problems with the viral "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has raised over $15 million for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease since late July, making its way to the top of American politics, and the entertainment and business worlds in the process.

In recent days, former president George W. Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, TV hosts Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Fallon, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have all had ice-cold water dumped on their heads in support of the effort.

They have been joined by many thousands of everyday Americans eager to do their part to raise funds to find a cure for the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

However, pro-life leaders from Patheos blogger Father Michael Duffy to the American Life League (ALL) are all pointing out that the ALS Association, which is behind the wildly popular fundraising effort, funds and otherwise supports embryonic stem cell research.

Instead, they are urging that pro-life people who want to participate in the ice bucket challenge send their donations to other charities that don't have similar ethical issues.

Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an unborn child. This is unlike adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, which are considered ethical.

A spokesperson from the ALS Association admitted to American Life League in an e-mail that while the organization "primarily funds adult stem cell research," they are "funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC)..."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"It is noble to combat a deadly disease," Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, but added that "it's such a shame that the ALS Association...chooses to support research that thrives from experimenting on and killing tiny, innocent human beings."

"Embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of pre-born people, is inherently unethical and a violation of fundamental human rights, and even materialists must admit that promises of its benefits have failed to deliver," continued Rose. "There is no good reason to condone this practice; in fact, all it does is taint the ALS Association, whom I'd otherwise be happy to support."

In the email to American Life League, ALS Assocation Spokesperson Carrie Munk defended the organization, saying that the embryonic stem cell research is being funded by an outside donor, and "the stem cell line was established many years ago."

She added that "under very strict guidelines, The Association may fund embryonic stem cell research in the future," and that currently "donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in this study or any stem cell project."

At least one Catholic archdiocese has spoken up about the problematic relationship between ALS Assocation and unethical research.

"We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in the ice bucket challenge," said a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. "But it's a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit."

Both Fr. Duffy and the archdiocese have recommended money be sent to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa. It is an organization that exclusively researches with adult stem cells. 

One D.C.-area Catholic, Robert Vega, wrote on Facebook that "in light of the absolute dignity of human life and necessity to defend it...I have taken down my Ice Bucket video, untagged myself from my nomination video, and encourage anyone to whom I may have spread the Challenge to do the same."

Embryonic stem cell research, which was a major controversy throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, has quietly, although decidedly, become less popular after many of the exalted promises of its proponents failed to materialize. As LifeSiteNews reported, in 2012 California and Maryland funded a fraction of the embryonic stem cell research projects that they did in 2007. Likewise, Maryland funded nearly twice as many stem cell research projects in 2012 as it had in the prior year -- but only one of the grants was done for an embryonic research project.

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Catholic couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host same-sex ‘wedding’ at their farm

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Robert and Cynthia Gifford

The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) has ruled that the Roman Catholic owners of an Albany-area farm violated the civil rights of a lesbian couple when they declined to host the couple’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony in 2012.

Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who own and operate Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, were ordered by DHR Judge Migdalia Pares and Commissioner Helen Diane Foster to pay $10,000 in fines to the state and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin for “mental pain and suffering.” 

Additionally, the Giffords must provide sensitivity training to their staff, and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.

The Giffords’ attorney, Jim Trainor, told LifeSiteNews that the two-year-legal drama and resulting fines all stemmed from a single brief phone call in 2012 that caught his clients off guard.

“The entire interaction between the Complainants and the Giffords transpired during a two to three minute telephone conversation which, unknown to Mrs. Gifford, was being tape recorded,” Trainor said.

“After communicating the fact that they chose not to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies at the farm because to do so would violate the Giffords’ sincerely held beliefs (that God intended marriage to be between a man a woman only), Mrs. Gifford invited the couple to visit the farm to discuss handling their wedding reception, which the couple refused.” 

The Giffords draw a line, Trainor explained, between a ceremony that solemnizes a homosexual relationship and a reception that celebrates the union after the fact.  To participate in the former, they argue, would be a violation of their own religious beliefs, especially because marriage ceremonies on the farm typically take place in and around the couple’s home, where they live full-time and are raising their two children. 

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But the Giffords are willing to serve gay couples in other ways – for example, they allowed another lesbian couple to throw a birthday party for their adopted child on the farm.

Trainor said he believes the decision by DHR goes too far in that it seeks to regulate what the Giffords can or cannot do in their own private home, even though state law only requires “places of public accommodation” to adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

“They consider the farm their home,” Trainor said. “They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.”

Trainor also said that the Judge and Commissioner should have taken into account the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which came down weeks before the DHR notified the Giffords of their decision.

“We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a ‘marriage’ ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor said. 

Trainor said he and the Giffords are evaluating their options for further legal action.

The Giffords could simply ask the DHR to reconsider their decision, but Trainor said he doubts that approach would be successful. In order to formally appeal the ruling the couple would have to go to the New York State Supreme Court. 

But there is another option: The Giffords could file a fresh lawsuit in either state or federal court challenging the constitutionality of the DHR ruling.

While religious liberty has been a hot topic in federal court lately, Trainor said New York’s state constitution “actually offers a lot” of protection when it comes to religious freedom. “Many people view it as more expansive than the U.S. Constitution in terms of religious freedoms.”

However, Trainor emphasized that the Giffords have not yet decided which avenue, if any, they are planning to take in terms of pursuing further legal action.

In the meantime, the Giffords will continue hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions at the farm, Trainor said. However, they are considering hiring a dedicated employee to handle the ceremonies in order to avoid having to directly participate in any future same-sex “weddings.”

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