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]

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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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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