Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

‘Noisy’ pro-abort protest fails to disrupt London 40 Days for Life event with bishop

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, April 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An attempt to disrupt a pro-life prayer vigil attended by a Catholic bishop in London Friday night failed as peaceful pro-lifers calmly carried on praying while abortion advocates tried to drown them out.

With pro-life activists becoming ever more effective recently, the UK’s abortion industry is resorting to increasingly aggressive tactics. Plans by the popular Catholic bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster to attend the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in London Last Friday particularly incensed abortion advocates, who staged a “noisy” counter protest, promoted by the far-left Guardian newspaper.

The plan backlashed, however, as the publicity stirred up interest among pro-lifers, but failed to win equal enthusiasm from London’s abortion supporters. Attendees said that, despite claims by the Press Association, the pro-lifers far out numbered the abortion advocates, with several hundred pro-lifers showing up.

“The large number of people who attended the prayer vigil shows that increasing numbers are opposed to our society’s ‘culture of death’ and are horrified that in 2010 almost 190,000 abortions took place in England and Wales,” said Bishop Hopes.

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Paul Smeaton, 24, who works for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and volunteers with the Catholic youth organization Juventutum London, attended the event and told LifeSiteNews.com that it was “both uplifting and a wake-up call.”

“It was uplifting and wonderful to be amongst so many people praying for an end to abortion. Uplifting because of the courage of Bishop Hopes in leading the vigil in the face of such hostility.

“But the aggression of the opposition served as a wake-up call and a reminder of the urgency of the pro-life cause,” he added.

The counter demonstration was organized by the ad hoc group Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance, who said they wanted to show the “tiny but vocal” pro-life groups that there is a “pro-choice majority in this country”.

They accused groups like 40 Days for Life of “increasingly mimicking the tactics of hardline US groups,” that have largely succeeded in bringing out significant reductions in the number of abortions in the U.S., and the permanent closure of hundreds of abortion facilities around the country.

Of particular concern to BPAS was the possibility that women who are approached by pro-life people might change their minds and opt out of abortion. “If bishops are getting behind this then I can’t see how it’s morally justified especially when women have already made up their minds,” Abigail Fitzgibbon, policy manager for BPAS told media last month.

Bishop Hopes, however, praised such outcomes, saying that the vigil “has enabled some women considering an abortion to change their minds.

“Such a change of heart that leads to the saving of the life of an unborn child, is a demonstration of God’s grace – an outcome to be welcomed.”

Citing the work of pregnancy charity Good Counsel network, Bishop Hopes added, “It is also important that practical help and assistance is provided for women who decide against having an abortion.”

According to its charter, BPAS’s purpose is to advocate and to provide the means “to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion.” As Britain’s busiest abortionist group, BPAS is responsible for the great majority of Britain’s 200,000 abortions each year, and 80 percent of the late term abortions.

Last year, BPAS almost succeeded in its lobbying attempt to change the legal definition of medical “treatment” to allow women to abort their children using the deadly RU-486 drug at home without medical supervision. More recently, the group issued a statement defending the practice, apparently widespread in their facilities, though technically illegal, of sex-selective abortions.

Paul Smeaton commented, “None of the aggression mustered outside the abortion centre on Friday can compare to the violence of abortion. The vigil on Friday showed the strength of the pro-life movement when roused into action, and our great potential to powerfully oppose this violence.

“It is crucial for the sake of unborn babies and mothers that we continue to increase in determination to end abortion in England.”

Many pro-life attendees wrote about the experience on their blogs, and most were heavily critical of the “sloppy” handling of the event by the mainstream press. One, who blogs under the title “A Reluctant Sinner,” singled out the Press Association coverage that claimed the numbers were even on both sides, with “about 500”.

“In this age of mounting concern over press irresponsibility, it is quite depressing to see a once respected agency publishing an article that doesn’t seem to have been checked or corroborated,” he wrote.

“In fact, it only took me a few minutes to discover that many acts of intimidation attributed to members of the pro-life vigil by the PA, had, in fact, been directed towards them by the pro-abortionists.”

A photograph taken of the counter-protest by Dr. Joseph Shaw, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and head of the nation’s Latin Mass Society, shows a small group of protesters swamped, and almost surrounded by praying pro-life people.

Published on the LMS blog, the photo (see above) shows the pro-abortion protest on the far right of the large crowd of pro-life people.

Dr. Shaw commented on his photo, “See that line of white posters people are holding up? That marks the front edge of the counter demo. That’s where the heads of the ‘pro-choice’ crowd ends and the pro-lifers begin.”

Read more of Dr. Shaw’s comments on the Press Association coverage


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

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In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

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By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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