Grégor Puppinck, PhD

The Council of Europe is imposing abortion on Ireland, Poland

Grégor Puppinck, PhD
By Grégor Puppinck
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WARSAW, December 13, 2012, (C-FAM.org)—In Europe, Ireland is a symbol of resistance against abortion.  Nevertheless, Ireland is on the point of giving in to the concerted pressure of the Council of Europe and the pro-abortion lobbies.

The Irish people have always been firmly opposed to abortion. Since the 1980s, they have rejected the legalization of abortion three times, while affording equal constitutional protection to the life of the unborn child and that of the mother. Abortion is therefore always prohibited, except when doctors consider it necessary to save the life of the mother.

However, the Council of Europe is at the heart of a campaign aiming to impose abortion from the top onto people who refused it from the bottom three times, by referenda in 1983, 1992 and 2002.

It is to be noted that the Council of Europe was created to defend democracy and human rights. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe.  Its role is to ensure the observance, by member states, of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.  States should abide by the judgments decided against them by the Court.  States are free to choose the most appropriate means to put right the violation found by the Court; and they are not required to adopt the various means possibly suggested by the Court in its judgments.  This execution of judgments is placed under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers, namely the ambassadors of the 47 Member States.

On December 16, 2010, in the A., B. and C. v. Ireland case, whereas there is no right to abortion under the Convention, the Court condemned Ireland, considering that its legislation on abortion is not clear, as it did not allow a pregnant woman, who wanted to have an abortion, to know whether she qualified for an abortion according to the exception (to save the life of the mother).  That woman, having previously suffered from cancer, feared that the pregnancy would adversely affect her health.  Thinking that she would not be granted the medical permission for an abortion, she travelled toEnglandwhere she underwent an abortion.

The A., B. and C. v. Ireland and the Tysiac v.Poland of March 20, 2007, (no 5410/03) cases are the landmark abortion cases against Ireland and Poland, respectively. 

In these cases, the women complained about their inability to have an abortion particularly due to the refusal of the doctors. The two cases result from the clash between two approaches on this issue:  one, the women who demand abortion as if it were an individual right and, two, the doctors and the State who submit abortion to objective criteria, especially related to the life and the health of the mother.

In these two cases, the Court tried to favor greatly the expression and the freedom of the women, without directly confronting the State’s right to submit abortion to strict conditions.  To that end, the Court stated that if the State decides to authorize abortion, even exceptionally, it should create a coherent legal framework and a procedure allowing women to establish effectively their “right” to abortion. 

Thus, abortion is not imposed directly on Ireland and Poland, but by the peripheral way of the procedural obligations which guarantee not a substantial right to abortion, but a procedural right of knowing whether one fulfills the right to access to an abortion. 

This procedural approach obliges Ireland only to “clarify” the concrete conditions of access to abortion; in actual practice, however, it goes far beyond that obligation.  This result is achieved while recognizing the absence of a right to abortion under the European Convention on Human Rights, and without its being necessary for the Court to comment on the prohibition in principle of abortion in Irish law.  In order to impose this procedural obligation, it suffices to affirm, starting from an exception from the prohibition on the ground of danger to the life of the mother, that there is a “right” to abortion and that this “right” falls within the scope of the Convention.

In order to execute the judgments as the Court recommends (a recommendation which is not compulsory), Ireland[1] and Poland will institute a decision-making mechanism to which women wishing to have an abortion will address their demands. 

Ireland will probably follow the example of Poland, which in order to carry out the Tysiac v. Poland judgment established a “committee of experts” in charge of deciding on a case by case basis whether the conditions of access to an abortion are fulfilled. This committee will necessarily interpret and change those conditions.  The composition of this committee is decisive and is debated within the Council of Europe: the pro-abortion lobbies[2] would like to reduce the number of doctors on such committees in favour of other professions and categories (lawyers, representatives of NGOs, etc). 

This request was backed by the UN Special Rapporteur for the right to health, who affirms that “a commission composed exclusively of health professionals presents a structural flaw which is detrimental to its impartiality.”[3]  This issue is important, as doctors have a scientific, objective and concrete approach to the causes justifying a possible abortion.  By contrast, lawyers and political organizations view abortion under the abstract angle of individual freedoms. 

What is at stake in the debate on the composition of those committees is the definition of the nature of abortion; on one side it is considered from a concrete and medical point of view and, on the other side, from an abstract point of view and as an individual freedom.  If abortion is a freedom, its exercise inevitably clashes with the doctors’ assessment which is perceived as an illegitimate interference.  This confrontation is stronger when the doctors invoke their freedom of conscience to refuse to carry out an abortion.

Moreover, entrusting a committee with a decision to authorize an abortion makes this decision collective, dissolving the moral and legal responsibility of the decision into the entire committee.

The decisions of this committee should be timely, reasoned and in writing, to be challenged in the court system.  Thus, the final decision to authorize abortion will belong no longer to the doctors or the ‘committee of experts’, but to the judge who will ultimately interpret the criteria for access to abortion.  At present, no procedure has been proposed to challenge in the courts a decision authorizing abortion   In practice, only a decision of refusal can go before the courts. 

Will the unborn child have a lawyer to represent and defend him/her in this committee?  There are no safeguards provided against the abusive interpretation by this committee of the legal conditions for access to abortion.  However, the pressure to allow for the legalization of abortion is very strong, especially from the European and international institutions.[4]

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Thus, the final interpretative power of the conditions for access to abortion will be transferred to the judicial power and ultimately to the European Court of Human Rights.  With such a mechanism, the European Court would soon be called on to decide on the reasons for decisions of refusal of those committees.  This would be a new opportunity to advance the right to abortion in Ireland.  Ultimately, the control of the framework of abortion is taken away from the legislator and to the doctor. Concerning the legislator, the decision in principle of whether to permit or not to permit abortion will no longer belong to the State and its citizens, because it is sufficient for the European Court to declare that there is actually a ‘right to abortion’ in Ireland, in order to impose this as a new and authentic interpretation of the Irish Constitution.  As to the doctor, his power will be transferred to the judge, guarantor of the respect for human rights.

During its December 6, 2012 meeting, the delegates to the Committee of Ministers invited Ireland to answer the issue of the “general prohibition of abortion in criminal law’, as it constitutes ‘a significant chilling factor for women and doctors because of the risk of criminal conviction and imprisonment’, inviting ‘the Irish authorities to expedite the implementation of the judgment…as soon as possible.”[5]  Further considerations on the execution of this judgment will be resumed at the latest during the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers in March 2013.

Some questions arise:  why such pressure on Ireland and Poland, when they are among the best countries in the world in respect of maternal services, far ahead of France and the United States?[6]

Why transfer to the judge the responsibility of the doctor, when assessing the medical necessity of the abortion is the scientific responsibility of the doctor?  Why is it so urgent to legalize abortion?  Why did the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decide to give ‘precedence’ to these cases, when so many cases concerning torture, disappearances, and murders are treated under the ordinary procedure?  Maybe because abortion profoundly defines the culture of a country – its legalization has the value of a ritual passage into post-modernity, as it allows the domination of individual will over life, subjectivity over objectivity.

This process it is not ineluctable, it depends on the strength of the political will of the Irish and Polish governments which can recall to the Council of Europe that their respective country has never engage to legalize abortion by ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, simply because abortion is not a human right, but a derogation to the right to life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.[7]

The European Centre for Law and Justice is an international, Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide. The ECLJ holds special Consultative Status before the United Nations/ECOSOC since 2007. The ECLJ engages legal, legislative, and cultural issues by implementing an effective strategy of advocacy, education, and litigation. The ECLJ advocates in particular the protection of religious freedoms and the dignity of the person with the European Court of Human Rights and the other mechanisms afforded by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and others. The ECLJ bases its action on “the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of European peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy” (Preamble of the Statute of the Council of Europe).

ENDNOTES:
1. See the Report of the official group of experts instituted by the Irish Government to propose ways of executing the judgment, published in November 2012 et accessible to this address: http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/Judgment_ABC.pdf?direct=1
2. See the communication of the « Centre for reproductive rights » to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the answer of the Polish Government DH-DD(2010)610E
3. See the Report onPoland of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, M. Anand Grover, 20 May 2010, Human Rights Council, document n° A/HRC/14/20/Add.3).
4. See the Report of the Human Rights Commissioner on his visit in Ireland (26-30 November 2007), adopted on 30 April 2008 (CommDH(2008)9), the Report of the Committee for the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW), of the High Commissioner Office of Human Rights of July 2005 (A/60/38(SUPP), the Periodical Report of the Human Rights Committee on the observance of the UN Covenant on civil and political rights (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/3, 30 July 2008).
5. 1157DH meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies 04 December 2012, Decision concerning the execution of A., B. and C. v. Ireland judgment.
6. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990-2010. Estimates Developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT (last visited 20th November 2012).
7. The European Centre for Law and Justice submitted a report to the Committee of Ministers on the execution of A. B. and C. v. Ireland DD(2012)917 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution/Themes/Add_info/IRL-ai_en.asp

Reprinted from C-FAM.org.


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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.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

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

Rachel Daly
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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