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.

Click “like” if you want to end abortion!

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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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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