Hilary White

Marie Stopes situation in Belfast ‘grim’ unless politicians act swiftly: SPUC

Hilary White
Hilary White
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BELFAST, October 12, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – If politicians and legal authorities do not move very swiftly, abortion will become a daily reality in Northern Ireland, whether the procedure remains a criminal code offense or not, pro-life activists have warned. Liam Gibson, development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Northern Ireland, told LifeSiteNews.com that the situation is “very grim.” He said that despite the law clearly prohibiting the killing of unborn children, the immensely wealthy international abortion machine could simply steamroller over the law.

But it seems as if there is little political will to act decisively. One official, whom Gibson declined to name, said that the government can do nothing until official statistics show a jump in the abortion rate, a process which can take two or three years.

Gibson and other pro-life activists fear that once the facility is opened and operating, scheduled for October 18th, it will have opened the legal floodgates.

Gibson said he believes the only hope is an immediate court injunction to stop the opening. Once Marie Stopes begins to operate, he fears, the process will be under way, and even if charges are laid the outcome will be inevitable.

“Even if there were a prosecution here,” he said, “and it were successful they could appeal all the way to England’s Supreme Court and that would be end of the abortion law in Northern Ireland.”

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Observers around the world were shocked when Marie Stopes, the international abortion giant, announced this week that it will be opening a shop front abortion facility in Belfast. They said they will offer chemical or “medical terminations” at a cost of £450. They have claimed in their press release that they will be acting “within the current legal framework for abortion” by offering abortions only within the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

Despite the claims by some news media and Marie Stopes, however, abortion in Northern Ireland is not legal.

The provisions of the UK’s Abortion Act 1967 were never fully applied to the province, and abortion remains an offense in the criminal code under the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861 and the Infant Life Preservation Act. It is possible for doctors to avoid prosecution for abortion under strictly defined conditions. These exceptions permit doctors to make an intervention only if the mother’s life is threatened. Case law has established that such situations have to be serious impediments, a life-changing, totally permanent, or very long-term event.

Gibson said, however, that such circumstances “in a first world country are extremely rare”. Ectopic pregnancies, the only common life-threatening condition for which medical science is not yet able to offer an option that saves the life of the child, cannot be treated with chemical, or even surgical abortion. The removal of a fallopian tube that has been implanted by the embryo is not defined by medical science as an abortion.

How then did Marie Stopes simply decide to hang out their abortion shingle in Belfast? Gibson replied, “Everybody knows the law, the politicians and the pro-lifers, even the pro-abortionists know the law. Effectively they’re just ignoring it and going ahead anyway.”

“What people don’t understand about Marie Stopes,” he said, “is that they don’t pretend to be nice, law abiding people. These are people whose business it is to go into other countries and break the law. They have gone into African countries where abortion is illegal, and where no one wants abortion, and simply done it.”

“They’ve been talking about doing this for 20 years,” Gibson said. “Marie Stopes are used to getting a lot of heat and criticism and they’re not worried about it.

“Change the law by breaking it, is the method here,” he said.

One of the effects of Marie Stopes’ action, he said, has been to muddy the waters as to the true nature of the law, with the BBC and others claiming that abortion in Northern Ireland is not illegal after all, merely “tightly regulated.” That and Marie Stopes’ emphasis on offering abortions within nine weeks of conception is already creating confusion in the media some of whom are now claiming that abortion is legal in Northern Ireland up to nine weeks gestation.

Asked how Marie Stopes’ can claim that abortion within nine weeks is “within the law” in Northern Ireland, Gibson said he has no idea, and assumed it was simply an arbitrary date set by their own protocols. “They have done a very good job of seizing control of the situation with the media.”

The problem facing Northern Irish politicians and legal authorities, Gibson said, is due in part to the nature of the criminal justice system, which is designed to punish offenses, not prevent crime: “It’s not great at protecting someone from the aggressor.” Police, he said, will be reluctant to act until it can be shown that Marie Stopes has strayed outside the law. But by then it will be too late.

Precious Life has contacted police in Belfast but was only asked to inform police when they planned to hold demonstrations. “So, their interest,” Gibson said, “is not in the fact that Marie Stopes intends to commit criminal acts, but in policing the pro-life protesters.”

Gibson said that he has been informed that the office of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland – that has jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters that fall within the devolved powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly – is “looking into the matter.” Gibson said that although the AG does not normally receive members of the public directly, he has hopes that John Larkin, QC will be open to suggestions from pro-life Members of the Legislative Assembly.

Pro-life activists in Belfast fear a replay of the situation in Canada where Dr. Henry Morgentaler took the same route by opening illegal abortion facilities in Montreal, Toronto, and other cities, daring the authorities to prosecute him. In the end, Morgentaler was arrested and prosecuted. The final result, after decades of legal battles, was the Supreme Court of Canada overturning the law in 1988.

The court ruled that Parliament must introduce a new law regarding abortion that would withstand constitutional challenge but no government since then has had the will to do so. To this day, Canada remains the only country in the world with no abortion law whatever.

The situation in Belfast closely parallels that of Canada’s in the late 1960s, when Morgentaler started conducting abortions illegally in Montreal. At that time, abortion in Canada was a criminal act and was also allowed only in the rare, medically determined cases in which continuing a pregnancy threatened the life of the mother.

Far from being convicted of the mass murder of thousands of unborn children under the law, Dr. Morgentaler was exonerated and lionized as a hero of “women’s rights,” finally being awarded the Order of Canada in 2008 in a country that had been staunchly pro-life and nearly 50 percent Catholic.

As a registered charity, Marie Stopes International UK had a declared income of £145 million last year, mostly in fees and grants from government bodies. They handle much of the abortion business for the National Health Service along with other groups like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Their deep pockets have enabled them to go into countries where abortion is illegal, including the Republic of Ireland, and establish political beachheads, promoting the pro-abortion and contraceptive ideologies through sympathetic media, and lobbying politicians. The pro-life group Precious Life has said they will be presenting evidence to the Attorney General that Marie Stopes officials have admitted to doing clandestine abortions in African countries where the practice remains illegal.

“It looks very much like there’s no way of stopping them if they’re determined. I’ve been speaking to politicians, but it looks as if no one will try to stop it.”

“Pro-life politicians are in shock and do not seem to be acting decisively,” he said. “The whole thing is so crazy that I think the politicians are simply saying ‘I never thought this could happen. How can they get away with it?’ It makes nonsense of the political process.”

“It looks very grim,” he added.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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