Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

British Medical Association maintains opposition to euthanasia despite pressure

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, June 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A motion to push the British Medical Association to take a “natural” stance on euthanasia and assisted suicide was voted down at the doctors’ union annual meeting in Bournemouth on Wednesday. The motion was put forward by activists as part of a larger effort to loosen the assisted suicide law in Parliament.

Attempts to legalise assisted suicide, which remains in the criminal code but virtually impossible to prosecute under current rules, should be actively and formally opposed by physicians’ associations, the membership of the union membership decided.

Last week, the British Medical Journal, the unofficial voice of the BMA, published three articles, two of which were by leaders of the pressure group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD), pushing for assisted suicide. The third was an official BMJ editorial, also in favor of assisted suicide.

In the BMJ editorial, Professor Raymond Tallis, a retired professor of geriatric medicine and chairman of HPAD, wrote, “At the heart of the case for neutrality is that the decriminalisation of assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole to decide, and no particular group should have disproportionate influence on this decision.”

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Originally, euthanasia lobbyists had put forward 14 separate motions asking the BMA to adopt official “neutrality” on efforts to liberalise the law. The rejected motion said, “that this meeting: i) believes that assisted dying is a matter for society and not for the medical profession; ii) believes that the BMA should adopt a neutral position on change in the law on assisted dying.”

This is the second attempt; nine motions asking for the BMA to adopt a “neutral” position were brought forward at last year’s meeting.

Opposing the motion, Dr. Dai Samuels said assisting a suicide was not an “act of kindness” but was akin to murder.

“I simply stand for looking after my patients and providing high-quality care. I do not consider the killing of patients, whatever the reason, is justified. That is murder and I cannot commit that offence,” Samuels said.

Dr. Hamish Meldrum, the BMA’s outgoing chairman, called the proposal “probably the worst of all options,” saying it would do nothing but exclude doctors from the debate.

“The medical profession is not only part of society,” he said, “but it would be members of the medical profession that would have to carry out the wishes of society were there to be a change in the law.”

“I think adopting a neutral position is probably the worst of all options. Neutrality does tend to exclude us from the argument, an argument which would have a huge bearing on the working lives of doctors.”

Meldrun said that he does not come from a “strong religious view” on the issue, but that in 40 years of general practice he had always “been able, in almost every occasion, to support my patients when they were dying without having to actively end their lives.”

The BMA’s refusal, again, to back away from the euthanasia question is likely to put a damper on further attempts to liberalise the law. Groups in favor are planning a mass lobbying effort in Parliament for which the passage of the motions at the BMA meeting was intended to be a wedge. Euthanasia activists are also waiting on a High Court decision in the case of Tony Nicklinson, a paralysed man who is petitioning the courts to allow his wife to legally kill him. Nicklinson’s lawyers presented their arguments last week.

Dr. Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said, “In rejecting this move the BMA has sent out a strong message that doctors must play a leading role in this debate which could otherwise be far too easily swayed by celebrity endorsement and media outlets who have consistently acted as the cheerleaders for assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

Saunders called the number of motions put forward at the meeting an “unprecedented” assault on medical ethics. A total of 45 motions on ethics were presented at this year’s meeting, of which 33 dealt with either abortion or euthanasia. Of these, 20 motions dealt with euthanasia or assisted suicide, with 14 supporting a relaxation of the BMA’s position and only 6 supporting the current position opposing a change in the law.

Saunders noted that, because it is a trade union, the British Medical Association is susceptible to such moves by small pressure groups. The good news, according to the CMF, is that this is the work of a very small number of activists whose groups are interconnected. Professor Raymond Tallis is the head of HPAD but is also a member of Britain’s leading euthanasia campaign group, Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. Tallis is one of only 520 registered members of HPAD, a number that amounts to 0.25 percent of all working physicians in the UK.

According to the newsletter sent to supporters, DID is planning a mass lobby of Parliament July 4, to coincide with a day conference where British celebrities like Sir Terry Pratchett will address supporters. Among the legislative plans is the launching of a private members’ bill that was drafted by euthanasia activists that they hope will usher in another public consultation.

“Their glossy propaganda inserts are spilling out of commercial publications; they are spending hundreds of thousands; and clearly believe this is their year,” Saunders said.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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