Hilary White

N. Ireland Health Minister reveals plans to shut down Marie Stopes abortion facility

Hilary White
Hilary White
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BELFAST, December 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has moved to create new rules on abortion aimed at shutting down the Marie Stopes private abortion facility that opened illegally in Belfast in October. Meanwhile, a poll has shown that despite much propaganda in the secular media, there remains strong public opposition to liberalising the current law that allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is in serious danger from continuing the pregnancy.

Poots said that his department is considering making “legal terminations” available only in hospitals at any stage in pregnancy. This would firmly bar Marie Stopes from offering “medical” or chemical, early term abortions at their private, freestanding facility. “It may be that we only permit abortions to be carried out in a health service facility,” he said, adding that several options on regulations are being considered.

Poots said that his department is dedicated to saving, not taking lives, and that they will never bring in a regime of “social abortion” such as is available elsewhere in the UK.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on November 26th, Poots was asked “when he will publish guidelines on the medical termination of pregnancy in light of the tragedy reported in Galway.” He responded that it “would be inappropriate” to comment on the case of Savita Halappanavar, whose death has sparked demands by the international abortion lobby for the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to legalise abortion.

Asked whether he will “do all in his power to protect the life of the unborn child,” Poots replied, “The first and foremost rule in the Department on the provision of healthcare: it is about saving lives, not taking life. I believe that that applies to those who are born and to the unborn, because we seek to save and protect life.”

He added, “We are very clear that the life of the mother has a priority here, but that is purely in those instances in which the life of the mother is under threat. 

“Some form of social abortion is not something that I will ever be bringing before the House or seeking the support of Members for, and I do not believe that if I were inclined to do so, it would receive the support of the House because it is not something that is publicly supported.”

Poots said his department is in discussion with the Royal College of Midwives to develop “a maternity strategy” which has not included discussion of abortion.

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“I know that there are people from the Royal College of Midwives who are advisers to Marie Stopes. I am of the opinion that the role of midwives is largely to ensure quality care for expectant mothers and the babies whom those expectant mothers are carrying; to ensure that they receive the best possible support throughout that pregnancy; to ensure the safe delivery of that baby; and to provide considerable support thereafter to ensure that the baby gets the best start in life, as opposed to being involved with something that is, in fact, taking the life of the unborn child.”

Marie Stopes has made the claim that abortions are legal in N. Ireland if they are committed before nine weeks of pregnancy, but Poots was forceful on the subject of the law, saying it “is clear”. The law makes no mention of abortion being legal in early stages of pregnancy.

“Abortion in Northern Ireland is regulated by criminal law, and termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland is illegal, unless there is a real and serious threat to the life of the woman, or if there is a real and serious threat to the physical or mental health of the woman that is either long term or permanent in its nature. 

“In any other circumstances, it would be unlawful to perform a procedure that terminates a pregnancy.”

Although the Belfast Telegraph claimed that a poll they commissioned showed the opposition in Stormont to liberalization of the abortion law was leaving legislators “out of step” with the public, the numbers actually suggest otherwise. The survey of 1130 adults found that 55.4 percent want the law to stay the same or be strengthened even further to protect the unborn, while a total of about 45 percent wanted some liberalization.

25.9 percent agreed with the proposal for abortion on demand, with the numbers about evenly split between Catholics (27.8%) and Protestants (28.3%). 18.6 percent believed abortion should be available in cases of pregnancy due to rape or incest.

The largest groups were strongly against abortion being liberalized, with 26.9 percent believing the law should be unchanged and 26.5 per cent saying abortion should only be allowed “if the mother is likely to die if the pregnancy continues,” a position somewhat stronger than the current law states. Two percent, all of them men, agreed with the statement, “Abortion is no better than shooting a child in the head and should be treated as murder.” This was the opinion given by John Larkin, the Attorney General, shortly before he was appointed to the post.

The Belfast Telegraph noted that all of the province’s leading political parties except Alliance, which allows a free vote on the issue, have policies strongly against changing the laws.

In the Assembly at Stormont, Poots said that his department can produce guidelines that will “help to provide clarity for obstetricians in particular situations,” but insisted that these will not change the current legal situation.

“This House is the only thing that can change the law, and, as I indicated, I will not be bringing anything before the House to change that law.” He added that he is personally glad that the law for Northern Ireland is separate from that of the rest of the UK, and that the independence of Northern Ireland’s legislature from Westminster and the full legalization of abortion are “not compatible”.

Meanwhile, the Marie Stopes facility has all but refused to participate in a legal inquiry by the Justice Committee over their appearance in October. In a letter to the committee Tracey McNeill, Marie Stopes’ UK director, issued a list of demands before agreeing to appear and give evidence. Once these demands are met, McNeill wrote, “We can arrange a mutually convenient time and place to meet.”

Justice Committee members, however called the letter “arrogant” and “impertinent” and noted that the Committee has the right to demand the presence of anyone, and refusal can be punished with up to three months in prison. 

MLA Jim Allister said, “I think it’s the height of impertinence for the Marie Stopes organisation to try and tell the committee how they should conduct whatever it is they are going to conduct.

“I think they’re showing themselves very arrogant.”

MLA Patsy McGlone, another member of the committee, said, “I would have thought first and foremost it is for the committee to determine who it calls and when they call them.

“No external body determines that. So I think they might well have started on the wrong foot there. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re new to the place.

“They should be advised that it’s for the committee to decide who it calls to give evidence.”

“The position they’re in at the moment, it’s in their best interests to cooperate with a committee of the Northern Ireland assembly,” he added.

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Newsbusters Staff

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Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
By

March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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Only 3 Days Left!

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By John-Henry Westen

I can’t believe how quickly our annual Spring campaign has flown by. Now,with only 3 days remaining, we still have $96,000 left to raise to meet our absolute minimum goal.

That’s why I must challenge you to stop everything, right now, and make a donation of whatever amount you can afford to support the pro-life and pro-family investigative reporting of LifeSite!

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But though we have made great strides in the past few days, we still need many more donations if we are going to have any hope of making it all the way by April 1st.

In these final, anxious days of our quarterly campaigns, I am always tempted to give in to fear, imagining what will happen if we don’t reach our goal.

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