Twenty cases of assisted suicide not prosecuted in Britain
LONDON, December 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Twenty people in Britain who have admitted to assisting suicides, a criminal offense, will not be prosecuted, the Director of Public Prosecutions told a private committee investigating the “laws and issues” surrounding assisted suicide this week. Since the new policy on prosecuting assisted suicide cases was put in place early this year, “there have been no prosecutions for assisted suicide,” said DPP Keir Starmer.
Starmer called the cases “difficult,” since they involved families in which relatives were accused of assisting in the suicides of loved ones. Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, in theory punishable by up to 14 years in prison. But this February, Starmer issued new guidelines that said persons who had assisted suicides would not be prosecuted if it were believed that they had acted without a motive of personal gain .
Starmer was speaking at a private “independent” inquiry into the “laws and issues” surrounding assisted suicide launched last month by one of the House of Lords’ most enthusiastic promoters of legalised assisted suicide. Charles Lord Falconer was Lord Chancellor under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, and is the leader of a cadre in Parliament who are ardently campaigning to legalise assisted suicide.
According to Starmer, in 2009-10, there were 19 cases where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was asked to make a decision whether to prosecute. In 17 of those cases it was decided there should be no further action. One of those cases is on-going and one was withdrawn by the police. In 2010-11 there have been 14 cases so far. 11 are on-going and with a decision for no further action in 3.
Starmer added, “We did have discussion about whether we should use the word ‘victim’ or not in the policy. We used it because when you’re talking about the
criminal law it works well in describing the parties, but I know that not everybody would agree with that.”
Explaining the genesis of the new policy, Starmer said that it was put in place in advance of a public consultation on the law. The CPS, he said, knew that there would “be a number of individuals who might find themselves in a difficult circumstance during the currency of the consultation and we didn’t want them to have no guidance”.
“Parliament it seemed to us had signaled that not every act that technically comes within the terms of the offence need necessarily be prosecuted,” he added.
Falconer’s Commission has been heavily criticised for its pro-legalisation bias. The Commission, that is not a work of the House of Lords, was launched late last month after two attempts to legalise assisted suicide through democratic processes failed by large voting margins - 148-100 and 194-141 in the House of Lords in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Last year, Falconer and his supporters failed to weaken the current law with an amendment to the Coroners and Justice bill that would have made it legal for family members to help relatives go to Switzerland to end their lives at the Dignitas euthanasia “clinic” .
Falconer said that his “independent” Commission would be a “serious and dispassionate investigation” into the need for a change in the law. The Commission intends to publish a report in October 2011 which it hopes will be discussed in Parliament.
Countering the “dispassionate” claim is the revelation that of the 12 members of the Commission, at least eight are on record as favouring legalising assisted suicide. The Commission is being conducted under the supervision of the campaign group ‘Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and is funded by novelist Sir Terry Pratchett, who has himself called for legalisation of assisted suicide for people suffering from dementia.
It has been heavily criticised for bias by disability rights campaigners. Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said, “[W]e are deeply concerned that this pseudo ‘commission’ will not reflect the concerns and fears of many disabled people. When it is funded by supporters of legalising assisted suicide, and without a formal remit from government, we would question how independent this commission really can be.”
Dr. Peter Saunders, campaign director of the Care Not Killing alliance, said, “This so-called independent commission has all the appearances of a stitch-up and serious questions have already been raised about transparency and objectivity.”
George Pitcher, a liberal Anglican minister who has written a book against legalisation of assisted suicide, was asked by Falconer to give evidence to the Commission. In an open letter to Falconer in the Daily Telegraph, Pitcher called the inquiry a “sham,” saying it is nothing more than a naked publicity campaign to legalise euthanasia.
Pitcher said it is “difficult to see” how the Commission could be “interpreted as anything even approaching ‘independent’ or ‘dispassionate’”. He asks Falconer to reveal how many members of the House of Lords refused to give evidence and whether any of the Lords who oppose legalisation of assisted suicide were approached for membership.
To contact the Commission on Assisted Dying:
Secretary to the Commission and Researcher
+020 7367 6334
Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals
AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.”
“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”
“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.
More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms. Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms.
Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”
“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target. This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott.
“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena. “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”
On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room. Police are searching for the man.
There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.
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Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?
May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose?
To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.
Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.
Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.
By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.
The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.
But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.
As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.
This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.
To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.
Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.
Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.
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‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation
May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.
Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.
The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.
Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”
Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.
“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”
Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.
“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”
“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”
Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.
“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”
Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”