Posted on | April 22, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D
Text of the introductory presentation of the European Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” at the European Parliament, Brussels, 10 April 2014
By Grégor Puppinck, representative of the ECI
“Today I have the honour of addressing you as a representative of the organising committee of the European Citizens’ Initiative “One of us” which to date is the Citizens’ Initiative which has collected the largest number of signatures across Europe.
The Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” has collected almost two million signatures, which makes it the largest Initiative to date and the biggest petition in the history of the European institutions.
Our proposals are within the competences of the European Union and they are in line with European law and fundamental rights. This has already been verified and certified by the European Commission during the examination prior to the official registration of the Initiative.
The Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” has therefore fulfilled all the necessary conditions in order for it to be the subject of a legislative proposal that will be discussed following the elections by the next Parliament and the Council.
The purpose of today’s hearing is not to try and anticipate the debate that will take place on the basis of our legislative proposal. The idea is to give us, who represent almost two million citizens, the opportunity to explain our proposal in detail.
Our proposal is simple and clear. It is based on the European experience. Furthermore it is fair and beneficial.
Out of respect for life and the dignity of every human being, we call for the inclusion in European regulation of an ethical clause that explicitly excludes from EU funding any activity which destroys, or involves the destruction of, human life. This ethical clause of general application would apply in particular to the funding of biotechnological practices which involve the destruction of human embryos and the funding of abortions in the context of developmental aid.
Thus, the Initiative asks that the following principle would be introduced into European law:
“No European Union funds should be attributed to activities which destroy human embryos or which involve their destruction”
The reason is that every human embryo is one of us.
This is the message of two million European citizens which we have the honour and responsibility of bringing before this Assembly today.
Like any truth, this message is difficult to hear as it goes against our selfishness.
The power to eliminate unwanted children, to exploit human embryos for industrial purposes, to limit population growth in poor countries and to impose our lifestyles on them: these are the powers which we call upon you to renounce out of respect for human beings who have barely been conceived and are in gestation.
Yes, our Initiative is fundamentally opposed to everything that destroys human beings. Our Initiative is a public statement of the consciences of millions of European citizens who recognise the humanity and individuality of every human being from conception.
We know that many people and organisations that are represented here are fundamentally and violently opposed to this testimony. We know very well that these organisations which promote abortion and unethical research on human embryos are, by all appearances, much more powerful than we are. Who do they represent? Strong financial interests, transnational lobbyists defending minority interests which have become very powerful in the last twenty years.
Next to them, we are nothing: we have no money, no power. And yet, we persist. This initiative was supported by a huge number of volunteers; and has received the support of a huge number of European citizens, larger than has ever united behind any other European petition. In this group of people, there are only volunteers: no one acts because of personal or financial interest. We have all decided to act because we have attentively listened to the voice of our consciences, which have told us that the life of every individual begins at conception and that consequently every human embryo is already a person and deserves respect.
The fundamental reason for this respect is simple: a human being is more than a thing or an animal. Every human being has a conscience that allows them to understand that which is true and good; and it is by virtue of this conscience that we call upon you to ensure that no European Union funds should be attributed to activities which destroy human embryos or which require their destruction.
To hold otherwise would be to believe that a human being is nothing more than an animal.
We call upon the European institutions to give greater respect to the human being.
Two million Europeans call upon the European institutions to raise the level of their values, to grow in humanity, to expand their consciences to recognise the humanity of all human life from conception.
This progress requires the awareness that a real human being exists before birth and from conception. As a human being, it is the holder of natural and inalienable rights and deserves greater protection from society because of its vulnerability.
Today, we can no longer hide behind our ignorance in order to justify the destruction of human embryos and foetuses. Today we know. Science itself teaches us that every individual life is an uninterrupted continuum from conception to death. We know that from conception a human being is fully formed with all of its individual and unique characteristics.
The destruction of embryos and the establishment of public policies to that effect shall never be accepted. These policies will always be condemned by the millions of people who listen to the voice of their consciences.
In fact, and the success of this Initiative is the expression of this, citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the respect which every human life deserves. For several years we have witnessed an awakening of awareness in this regard. Look at the recent legislative developments in several European and American countries.
Europe, which wishes to be based on a foundation of values – especially in the area of human life and dignity – could be an example of this progress. This is what we ask of you. And this request is not unattainable; it is even very reasonable, but it implies not acting solely based on short-term financial interests.
The respect due to life and the dignity of every human life from conception is also largely recognised in European and international law. European regulation which prohibits the funding of the destruction of the embryo in the course of research and the directive on biotechnology which forbids the creation of patents for practices which imply the destruction of embryos, are founded on the recognition of human dignity within every human embryo.
There is also the application of the Oviedo Convention on biotechnology. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has also clearly affirmed “the rights of every child to life from the moment of conception” and that “human embryos and foetuses must be treated in all circumstances with the respect due to human dignity”
We are calling on the European institutions to be coherent and to draw the necessary conclusions from the idea of the humanity of every individual life from conception.
Thus, that which the signatories of this Initiative call for is not simply based on a fundamental moral question – the respect of life and of human dignity – but also on scientific, social and legal justifications. Scientific justifications show us that research on embryonic stem cells is largely outdated. Social justifications show us that the practice of abortion does not contribute to the development or the improvement of maternal health. Legal justifications show us that the actions of the European Union are incoherent from an ethical point of view.
It took centuries for humanity to put an end to slavery, for us to recognise all human beings as our equals; in order for us to recognise that the foreigner or the “savage” is “one of us”. Yet, at that time, political, economic and financial interests were opposed to the recognition of the humanity and equal rights of slaves. Today, we face a similar situation. We hear the same utilitarian arguments which invoke the importance for the economy of the ability to exploit and eliminate these human beings who are not truly human, and in any case, not equal to us.
Finally, even from an economic point of view, the abolition of slavery proved beneficial as it led to the mechanisation of agriculture. Similarly, evidence suggests that if we were to give up non-ethical research on human embryos this would be beneficial to the progress of science as it would promote other avenues of research inducible adult stem cells iPS. Since the discovery of these iPS cells, private financial investments for embryonic cells have literally collapsed. It is therefore not only unethical but also contrary to scientific developments that the European Union continues to support these practices.
It is well known that today the principal interest in the use of embryonic stem cells is neither scientific nor therapeutic, but economic: they allow the pharmaceutical industry to test future medications on a large scale, at a lower financial cost that through the use of IPS cells or animals.
In any case, it would be a great step forward for humanity if Europe, rather than financing and encouraging the practice of abortion en masse, committed to a true development policy which would fight against the causes of maternal mortality and abortion. It is not by financing abortion that Europe will improve women’s health. Quite the contrary.
If Europe wishes to improve maternal health in poor countries we should be improving medical infrastructure, the training of medical staff, hygiene and transport links. It is their deficiency that causes maternal mortality. It is not by making access to abortion a priority that we improve maternal health. Quite the contrary, abortion – even in industrialised countries – is a major cause of maternal mortality. The proof is that countries which severely restrict abortions are precisely those with the lowest levels of maternal mortality. The examples of Chile, Ireland and Poland are proof of this. The maternal mortality rate is much higher in the U.S. than in Poland.
Under the guise of the fight against maternal mortality, the purpose of the policies on sexual and reproductive health is to fundamentally change the societies of developing countries by reducing their birth rate. It is nothing more or less than the export to poor countries of the so-called “Western social model” which involves contraception and abortion as its major tenets.
But this policy results in the breakdown of the family, which is the very basis of society. Through colonialism, the West has already partially destroyed the social balance of these peoples. Does Europe want to be guilty of destructive neocolonialism? Is that the European idea of development?
Again, we are calling upon the European institutions to do better by refusing to finance and promote abortion, and by committing to an aid policy which would allow the type of development that respects these societies, life and mankind.
Whether in research, industry or development, no true progress can be made based on the negation, exploitation and destruction of humanity at the beginning of a human beings existence.
Posted on | April 22, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
C-FAM worked with Family Research Council and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists on a statement delivered during the 47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development by C-FAM’s Wendy Wright. You can watch the statement on the UN’s webcast 30min into the meeting. The UN press office had an excellent summary of the statement:
WENDY WRIGHT, Family Research Council, said the world could not be deceived by those who said that changing abortion laws would improve maternal health. Abortion was estimated to account for less than 15 per cent of maternal deaths. Abortion-related deaths would decrease proportionately with other causes of maternal death if the right improvements to health care were made, regardless of the legal status of abortion. Legalizing abortion did not improve maternal health. It only made it safe for the abortionist, not for the mother and her unborn child. Ireland and Chile were world leaders in maternal health, with lower maternal mortality rates than the United States and other wealthy countries, despite having highly restrictive abortion laws. Legalizing abortion actually endangered the lives of women by exposing them to health risks they would not encounter if they were to carry their pregnancies to term.
Posted on | April 16, 2014 by Wendy Wright
In Nigeria, gunmen kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls and torched the surrounding town on Tuesday. A day before, a deadly blast killed 71 people. A day later, 18 people were killed in another attack.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department is laser-focused on . . . promoting homosexuality.
In 2011, former Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Obama directed all federal agencies working abroad to protect and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
To give an example how this shakes out, within hours of an arrest – and release the same day – in Uganda of an employee of a US-funded clinic for alleged “unethical research” and “recruiting homosexuals,” the State Department released a statement. This “heightens our concern” for the safety of LGBT individuals.
And the U.S. suspended operations of the entire health clinic.
Patients and health providers were not at risk by it being open. Instead, shutting down the clinic endangered patients.
This message sounds like, “Nice clinic. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
Going by the Obama administration’s own statements and actions, LGBT rights is more than a priority. As delegates at the UN tell us, it is an obsession.
Girls who will be used as sex slaves for terrorists do not rank as high. Neither do Christians and other innocents slaughtered by the thousands in Syria and Nigeria.
None else get the full attention of every U.S. agency working abroad.
Endangering other people — literally holding their health and lives hostage — is wrong-headed. But thousands of innocent people who are being tortured, jailed, attacked for their religious beliefs deserve some attention and action.
This is not equality.
Posted on | April 15, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
Ross Douthat argued a few weeks back that he does not think conservatives are in for persecution in the future, only a loss of position or influence in society. When I read his column my gut instinct told me that forcing Christians and other social conservatives out of the public life of a country is a form of persecution, whether or not you call it that. But then I thought that Ross Douthat might be right. Assuming that the liberals do run away with the future of this country, perhaps it won’t be the case that Christians will be fed to the lions as in roman times, and I gave Douthat the benefit of the doubt. But the comments to one of his latest columns in the NY Times website are a further sign that a full fledged persecution may not be that far around the corner if liberals are allowed to keep control of our government and institutions for much longer.
Instead of Disaster a Triumph: The European Parliament’s Hearing on the European Citizen’s Initiative “One of Us”
Posted on | April 12, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Unfortunately, due to other obligations, I did not have the possibility to be present at the hearing. What I write here is what I have seen on the complete webstream of the meeting, as well as of interviews with those who had themselves been present.
While, after having read the draft agenda that was handed down by the European Parliament’s administration on Wednesday afternoon, we had all reasons to fear a disaster, the hearing was a great and unique moment in the Parliament’s history. Fighting bravely back against a brazen attempt of a small but powerful clique of politicians to hijack and pervert the event, the representatives of the “One of Us” citizens’ committee gave a veritable showdown to their opponents both within the Parliament itself and the European Commission. Instead of lecturing the citizens, the institutions were forced to listen. And for those who listened carefully, this meeting must have brought a lot of insight.
But disaster was close. We have already commented on the brazen attempt of some MEPs with close links to the well–funded abortion industry to reserve two-thirds of the speaking time in the hearing for themselves, so that it would be their radical and obscurantist ideas, rather than those promoted by the citizens’ initiative, that would receive a hearing. The citizens’ committee was left with no other choice than to threaten a boycott of the hearing, and it was only due to this credible threat of what – just one month before the elections – might have been the biggest possible PR-disaster in the EU’s entire history, that the agenda of the hearing was adjusted in extremis.
The most important change in the agenda was that more speaking time was allotted to the citizens’ committee, and that the committee’s lead representative, our blog author Grégor Puppinck, was allowed to intervene as the first speaker, thereby forestalling possible attempts of hostile MEPs to misrepresent the content of the petition. The number of MEPs with reserved speaking slots was also reduced. However, it was apparently not possible to remove from the speakers’ list Françoise Castex and Michael Cashman, who already prior to the hearing had signed up to a highly inappropriate and denigratory statement sponsored by the abortion lobby, in which the citizens’ initiative was denounced as “open threat against women’s rights and against the basic human’s right to live in dignity”. Ms. Castex was even given assigned the task of presiding over the last part of the hearing, a role she fulfilled rather disgracefully.
Credit must, by contrast, be given to the Spanish MEP Teresa Riera Madurell, who despite her clearly critical stance towards the initiative presided over the first part of the meeting with fairness and serenity, and whose charm and politeness did a lot to overcome the tensions prior to the hearing.
Grégor Puppinck made a formidable start, telling the audience that organizer’s committee did not consider this hearing to be the end of its venture, but that there was now a clear expectation for the Commission to launch a regular legislative procedure on the basis of the proposal that had been endorsed by nearly 1.9 million citizens: “Our proposals are within the competences of the European Union”, he said, “and they are in line with European law and fundamental rights. This has already been verified and certified by the European Commission during the examination prior to the official registration of the Initiative. (…) Our proposal is simple and clear. It is based on the European experience. Furthermore it is fair and beneficial.” The Commission, he pointed out, was now under an obligation to move this proposal forward if it did not want to jeopardize the credibility of the European Citizens’ Initiative as an instrument of participatory democracy.
This set the tone, and Puppinck remained the dominant figure throughout the rest of the meeting, exhibiting spirit, good humour, and flamboyant rhetoric, rebutting with the greatest ease whatever attacks the MEPs opposing the initiative would throw at him. He was assisted in this task by the Italian lawyer Filippo Vari, who brilliantly exposed the total inadequacy of the ethical safeguard clauses in the EU’s research program “Horizon 2020”, and by Sophia Kuby, the Director of the Brussels-based NGO “European Dignity Watch”, who briefly summarized a comprehensive report by her organization on the funding of abortions through EU Development Aid funds.
After having used all their elbow to secure places on the panels of the hearing, the initiative’s opponents had surprisingly little to offer both in terms of arguments and rhetoric. Their contributions consisted in shrill ad hominem attacks and completely unfounded suppositions about the initiative’s financing. On the rare occasions in which they actually attempted to engage with the petition’s content, their arguments remained feeble and unconvincing. The absolute nadir was reached when Michael Cashman claimed that the Cairo ICPD 1994 constituted an international obligation for the EU to continue funding abortion in developing countries (in fact, as Ms. Kuby compellingly exposed, the ICPD is neither legally binding, nor does it contain such an obligation), or when he sought to demonstrate the necessity of legalising abortion by comparing the maternal mortality of African and Latin American countries with those of the EU. (In fact, maternal mortality depends on a great quantity of different causes, so that Mr. Cashman’s comparison makes little or no sense. He should instead have compared like with like. For example, he might have searched for data somewhat closer to home, comparing the incidence of maternal deaths in Ireland and the UK. Had he done so, he would have discovered that the latest available WHO statistics report that in 2010 in Ireland there were 6 cases of maternal mortality for each 100.000 lifebirths, whereas in the UK there were 12. If liberal abortion laws have an effect on maternal mortality, it must be that they significantly increase the risk. But ideologues like Mr. Cahman will always remain blind to facts that don’t fit to their beliefs.)
In the end, one must actually be grateful for Mr. Cashman, Ms. Castex, and other outspoken opponents of the initiative, for having participated in this hearing. Each of their interventions provided further proof for both the weakness of their reasoning and their unwillingness to engage in an open and fair debate. This culminated in Ms. Castex’ closing statement, in which she made a last-ditch effort to discredit the petition by grossly misrepresenting its scope and purpose. This viciously unfair move by someone who was supposed to act as a fair chairperson provoked loud jeers and catcalls from the audience that did not end until Ms. Castex had left the room. It is regrettable that the hearing did not end on a friendlier tone, but in this case the angry reactions of the audience were fully justified.
A regrettable unwillingness to engage with what was said by the citizens’ committee was also apparent in the representatives of the European Commission. The Director General for Research Policy, Robert-Jan Smits, astonished the audience by apodictically asserting that the Commission had put in place rigorous ethical standards for the research projects it funded, without making even making the an attempt to engage with the detailed analysis that had been provided by the representative of the citizens’ committee, Mr. Vari, on why those standards are completely inadequate. It was as if he had simply not been listening to the presentation. Very much in the same vein, Commissioner Andris Piebalgs did not find it worthwhile to clarify whether the use of EU funds to finance abortion in developing countries happened with, or without, the Commission’s consent and approval, and, if the latter, what he intended to do in order to put a halt to such misuse of taxpayers’ money. His silence was truly agonizing, in particular after having listened to Ms. Kuby’s explanations on the gruesome details of the abortions procured by organizations such as IPPF and Marie Stopes, each of which receive generous financial support from the European Commission. Markus Cornaro, Deputy Director General of DG Development, made a rather non-committal statement about the Commission’s intentions to follow-up on the hearing. He asserted that only around 0.5 percent of the EU’s development aid funding was spent on “potentially dubious” activities such as those mentioned in Ms. Kuby’s intervention. (If that is so, then one may suppose it must be no big deal for the Commission to put a halt to stop funding those “potentially dubious” programs, and instead spend the money on less dubious activities – and one wonders which reasons might prevent the Commission from doing so.) But at the same time he seemed rather unsure whether the Commission really had full control of what the money it gave to partners like IPPF and Marie Stopes was actually used for.
The closing statement of Grégor Puppinck deserves to be reproduced in full:
We have not only come to testify. The Citizen’s Initiative “One of Us” does not end today. On the contrary, today is the beginning of the legislative process of shared initiative.
Our initiative holds the EU institutions not only to their moral responsibility, but also to their democratic responsibility.
The European Citizens’ Initiative mechanism was created in order to share the European legislative initiative with European citizens. This instrument aims to open the EU to citizens’ participation, and strengthen its democratic legitimacy the weakness of which was so heavily felt for so many years. It is now vital for the credibility of the European institutions that the expectations and hopes that are related to this proposal are not disappointed.
The “One of Us” Initiative is not only the one that has attracted the most support across Europe and is the most representative, but it is also the first to date to contain a specific legislative proposal that concretely specifies the changes we would like to see made to European Union legislation.
During the official registration of the Initiative, the legislative proposal was subject to prior review by the Commission which has verified and certified that it fully complies with the fundamental rights and basic values of the primary law of the European Union.
In addition, this proposal is simple and realistic and will not incur expenses for the EU budget. There are therefore neither practical obstacles nor substantive considerations which could justify a Commission decision not to launch a legislative procedure based on the content of our Initiative. We therefore expect the European Commission to introduce our legislative proposal and submit it for consideration by the Parliament and the Council, with some purely technical modifications which may be necessary, but which do not affect the substance of this proposal.
The political desirability of the legislative proposal is demonstrated by the popular support of two million people, and it is not for the Commission to decide on this point at this stage of the proceedings. The Commission does not consider the political desirability of a Citizens’ Initiative: it is the people directly who do, since more than one million citizens support the Initiative.
It is very clear that the purpose of Article 11 of the TEU is to give citizens the initiative of legislative procedures such as this one, without it being possible for it to be blocked in an arbitrary manner.
What would be the point of the mechanism of Citizens’ Initiative if only the proposals that appeal to the European Commission had a chance to be introduced into the legislative process! What good would it do to gather more than one million signatures? The Citizens’ Initiative mechanism would be useless. Worse, it would be a caricature of participatory democracy, which would further reduce the popular legitimacy of the European institutions.
Because it is up to the next Parliament and the Council of the European Union which are vested with legislative powers, it is for them to discuss and vote on the legislative project proposed by the “One of Us” Initiative.
Be assured that we will never give up.
The Commission’s communication with regard to a possible follow-up to the citizen’s initiative is due to be published before 28 May.
Posted on | April 10, 2014 by Wendy Wright
Swarms of sexual and reproductive rights activists fill the UN this week. But that did not intimidate the Holy See from defending innocent lives from abortion. Here is their statement. (The webcast picked up hearty applause at the end.)
Statement by Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
Commission on Population and Development 47th Session United Nations Headquarters, New York, 10 April 2014
My delegation takes this opportunity to express its best wishes to you and your Bureau for a productive session, and looks forward to working constructively with delegations as we assess the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.
According to the report of the Secretary General, no fewer than 80 countries now register a fertility rate below replacement level. These statistics should be a great cause for alarm, as expressed in another report of the Secretary General:
Old-age support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued fiscal pressure on support systems for older people.
The unsustainable phenomenon of ageing populations can only be resolved by promoting family life and fertility.
Support systems for the ageing can only be sustained by a larger, not smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by providing intergenerational family support directly.
My delegation wishes to express grave concern over a very proscriptive approach taken in the zero draft of the outcome document, towards the implementation of the ICPD. This approach seems to treat fertility and pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government or outside assistance. While this may well reflect the concerns of certain highly developed countries, on a universal scale it certainly skews the population and development realities for the most part of the developing countries of the world, for whom other issues take greater priority. My delegation is of the view that a more sensible approach should focus less on reducing fertility and more on programs and values which support integral human development,
namely: personal, social, and spiritual development. Access to education, economic opportunity, political stability, basic health care, and support for the family should serve as the key priorities for achieving such integral human development.
An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive “rights”, almost to the exclusion of any other issue. This reflects an improper overtaking of the ICPD Programme of Action by efforts to promote the legalization and/or liberalization of abortion laws, whether by Member States or some UN Agencies, who openly promote laws providing for legal abortion.
However, the Programme of Action in no way promotes abortion, but expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population. The ICPD denies that it creates any new rights in this regard. Such laws and policies remain the prerogative of individual Member States according to the Programme of Action. All States emphasized at Cairo that Governments should help women avoid recourse to abortion.
Pope Francis recently addressed this issue:
Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. … [T]he church cannot be expected to change her position on this question… It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life…
The Holy See continues to serve at the front-line addressing greater global poverty, human rights and development. Through its presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See demonstrates that care and compassion for the poor, rather than focusing on fertility reduction, serves as a model for a truly human-centered approach to development.
Thank You Mr. Chairman
See OHCRH and UNAIDS, International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, 2006 Consolidated Version, pg. 35:“Laws should also be enacted to ensure women’s reproductive and sexual rights, … including safe and
legal abortion …”, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/HIV/ConsolidatedGuidelinesHIV.pdf
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 213 & 214 See Pope Francis, Message to the World Council of Churches, 4 October 2013
Posted on | April 10, 2014 by Wendy Wright
Mozilla found business success by allowing people to innovate and collaborate openly. So it’s decision to shun its new CEO — by all accounts a brilliant, respectful man — for supporting traditional marriage is alarming.
This Time Magazine op ed explains it well:
The decision to remove Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich is not good for anyone on any side of the culture war
Last week’s forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich should have sent a shudder through gatherings all over the country. This shudder was felt, it’s true, in gatherings of evangelical churches, Roman Catholic parishes, Orthodox Jewish synagogues. But this shudder should also have gone through corporate boardrooms, because it signals a dangerous trend of forced political uniformity, rather than tolerance, in corporate America. That’s not good for anyone, on any side of the culture war.
At issue, of course, is Brandon Eich’s 2008 donation of $1,000 to a campaign in support of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure to retain the definition of marriage in that state to the union of one man and one woman. Eich was hounded out of his job by activists who didn’t simply disagree with Eich’s view but who wouldn’t tolerate any dissenting view in the company at all. The goal, it seems, wasn’t dignity or justice, but enforced equality of thought.
As social conservatives, we, of course, were shocked by this development. Columnist Rod Dreher spoke of it as Portlandia’s form of Sharia Law. But those on the traditional marriage side of the cultural divide weren’t alone. Some pro-same-sex marriage thinkers, such as Jonathan Rauch and Andrew Sullivan, also dissented from this sort of Inquisition. “The whole episode disgusts me,” Sullivan wrote. “If this is the gay rights movement today—hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else, then count me out.”
Make no mistake, we support the rights of corporations to live up to their corporate values, even when we disagree with those values. We don’t want the government interfering with Mozilla’s right to make this decision. But we think the decision was a poor one, one that seeks to wield a nuclear option of silencing all dissent through endless campaigns of forced silence. We believe it’s important for all of us to ask, how did Mozilla get to this point? And is this really where we want to go?
Mozilla executive chair Mitchell Baker wrote, in explaining the board’s decision, “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right.” Baker uses “people” here in an abstract and almost universalizing way. Who are these “people”? It’s obviously not LGBT people in general because many of them, like Sullivan and Rauch, don’t agree with these tactics.
And “people” here cannot refer to the overwhelming consensus of the American population because every poll indicates that, whatever cultural changes have happened, the population is still divided on the question of whether the definition of marriage should be revised to include same-sex couples.
The “people,” it appears, who sparked this controversy, are critics on Twitter and a dating site, OKCupid, which recommended its users find another browser than Mozilla’s Firefox. And Mozilla has received more backlash for removing Eich than for hiring him. The company tracks positive and negative comments, and the negative reaction to this is unprecedented.
We’ve seen this before in recent days, in the kerfuffle over A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty reality show star Phil Robertson for quoting a Bible passage about sexual morality. The backlash to the suspension was so overwhelming that A&E rescinded it within days.
So how does this happen? How does a company get to the point where its first reaction to an unpopular opinion is to punish diversity of thought? We think it happens because the company becomes so culturally isolated that they no longer know that there, in fact, is diversity of thought on a given issue. The Twitter and Facebook outrage against Eich can seem to be the uniform “voice of the people,” rather than one more debate in an ongoing controversy.
As evangelical Christians, we’ve heard, all our lives, our churches and ministries warn against a “Christian bubble,” where we can be around fellow believers all the time to the point that we lose touch with what our unbelieving neighbors think, to the point that we lose any point of connection with them. That’s easy to do, and not just in church circles.
There can be a “boardroom bubble,” where belonging to a particular cultural group can give the blindness of thinking that “everyone” believes the way that you do. This can happen in Hollywood studios or in New York media empires or in Washington DC think tanks—and it can also happen in Silicon Valley tech companies.
Have American boardrooms become so insulated in their secularity, that they cannot even imagine why, for instance, Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants and Orthodox Jews and Muslims and Latter-day Saints might hold sincere differences from the accepted wisdom of the corporate cocktail parties about what marriage is? If so, these companies will be out of touch with a significant segment of the population. But, more importantly, these companies can find themselves, as Mozilla did, turning their corporate mission into a scorched-earth culture war battlefield that will be good neither for business nor for civil society.
The answer, we believe, is to break out of the bubble. Don’t silence disagreement, but see more conversation, not less, as a means of engagement. The Bible tells us that “in the multitude of counselors,” there is wisdom (Prov. 11:14). We would think that successful business leaders—even those who wouldn’t know how to find that passage in the Bible—would know that intuitively. But that multitude of counselors means engagement, not silencing. And it means real diversity, not just whatever makes sense to the diversity officer. If companies were to seek this sort of engagement, we might see fewer embarrassing episodes like Mozilla’s in the years to come.
Dr. Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Penny Nance is CEO and President of Concerned Women for America.
BREAKING NEWS: “One of Us” Citizen’s Committee sends Protest Letter to European Parliament! Will the Hearing take place??
Posted on | April 10, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
This letter was sent a few minutes ago by Gregor Puppinck, in his function of Representative of the Organizers’ Committee of the European Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” to MEP Teresa Riera Madurell, the chairperson of today’s parliamentary hearing.
Posted on | April 8, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Following the successful Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us”, which has collected nearly 1.9 million signatures and is the most successful of all citizens’ initiatives so far, the European Parliament is obliged to hold a hearing on the subject matter of the petition, in which the organizers can present their proposal.
However, it appears that the EU institutions involved have a rather peculiar approach to this hearing. While common sense would expect that this would be the occasion where the politicians will listen to the citizens, the European Parliament and Commission want it the other way round: the organizers of the successful petition should listen to what the politicians have to tell them.
The agenda of the hearing, as it was released today, is truly astonishing. It begins with the statements of four Members of the European Parliament and two Commissioners even before the representative of the Citizens’ Committee, our blog author Grégor Puppinck, will be allowed to take the word for the first time.
It is no surprise, then, that the majority of the politicians who are scheduled as speakers are known to be very hostile to the intentions of the successful initiative. Teresa Riera Madurell, a Spanish socialist who will chair the meeting, played a key role in ensuring that the Research Framework Program “Horizon 2020” does not include any safeguard to exclude ethically controversial research projects that involve or presuppose the destruction of human embryo from EU funding. Françoise Castex, another Socialist MEP, should represent the Legal Affairs Committee, which at the time opposed the funding of embryo-destroying research – but one must expect that she will use the occasion to present her personal opinions rather than those of the Committee. The Committee on Development will be represented by yet another Socialist MEP, Thijs Berman from the Netherlands, who as Rapporteur on the EU’s new “Development Cooperation Instrument” had the merit of not including a clause that would prohibit the misuse of development aid funds for the purpose of abortion, although the citizens’ initiative and its imminent success must already have been known at the time. Taken together, this is a completely disproportionate representation of one single political group, which represents barely one quarter of the electorate (195 out of 766 Members), and which on various occasions (such as the Estrela and the Zuber Reports) has demonstrated its indifference, if not hostility, to the idea that the human embryo is a bearer of human dignity. These people will be allowed to monopolize the debate, i.e. they have secured longer speaking time for themselves than is accorded to the citizens to which they should be listening – whereas dignity-friendly MEPs will be lucky to get just a few seconds to express their support of the initiative.
As regards the two Commissioners who will be present, Maire Gheoghegan-Quinn (Research) and Andris Piebalgs (Development), I have already had the occasion to inform readers of this blog on their attitude towards the successful initiative. Given that they hold the relevant portfolios within the Commission, it is certainly laudable that they attend the hearing – but why must they speak? And why twice?
Definitely, there is a risk that the new institution of a “European Citizens’ Initiative”, which was introduced in 2012 to give citizens a voice, will be turned into its opposite. Just five weeks prior to the upcoming elections, this would be a very bad mistake.
You can follow the hearing live on the internet – there is a webstream. It begins at 9am Brussels local time on Thursday 10 April.
Postscript, 9 April: it has now transpired that in addition to Mr. Berman, the Development Committee will be represented by yet another socialist Member, Mr. Michael Cashman (aka “Mr. Blitzkrieg“, or “The Man who Hit the Wrong Key“). Mr. Cashman is not one of many leftist MEPs, but he is one of the most extremist embryo-haters in the European Parliament; yesterday he was seen at a meeting with lobbyists of the abortion-industry, in which the “One of Us” Initiative was characterized as “despicable”.
This is likely to turn the EP hearing into an absolute farce: the European Citizens’ Initiative serves the purpose to give normal citizens a possibility to make their voice heard, not to give to a discredited man like Mr. Cashman an occasion to hijack the tribune for airing his notorious anti-human-rights views, or for insulting a citizen’s initiative that certainly represents far more citizens than he does.
Posted on | April 8, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D
Women claiming their pregnancies are unwanted were “trying hard” to avoid becoming pregnant at the time of conception, according to new data from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas).
Two thirds of the women who had an abortion at bpas were using a contraceptive, with the contraceptive pill being the most popular. None of the conclusions of the report indicated that the women lacked access to “modern methods of family planning” or that any false perceptions they may have had regarding their own fertility was due to being denied comprehensive sexuality education.
The chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Ann Furedi, said:
“An unintended pregnancy is often a happy accident – and a large proportion of births in this country are unplanned…Ultimately women cannot control their fertility through contraception alone, and need accessible abortion services as a back-up for when their contraception lets them down.”
The UK has a long-established national health service, and is in many ways a model of what international development organizations would like to export to the developing world. Maternal health statistics in Western Europe are among the best in the world, meaning that carrying a pregnancy to term, even an unintended one, is unlikely to entail risking one’s health or life.
Furthermore, as pro-life groups have consistently reported, increasing contraceptive use is frequently linked to increased abortion rates.
Pro-lifers are often attacked for not doing enough to promote contraception (or, in many cases, for opposing it on moral grounds) on the basis that abortion is best prevented by increasing contraceptive use. One prominent Catholic who famously bought this line of reasoning is Melinda Gates, who claims to oppose abortion, yet has vowed to make access to contraception a main focus of her life’s work.
The best counter-arguments to this often come from abortion advocates themselves, like Anne Furedi above and RH Reality Check’s Marge Berer, who wrote the following:
“The answer is not to promote contraception in order to reduce unsafe abortion, as the [Gates Family Planning] Summit did. The answer is to promote contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancy and provide safe abortion to every woman who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy. That is the way to make unsafe abortion history. Abortion will not go away unless men and women stop having sex with each other or everyone is sterilised. So forget it!”
So much for “happy accidents,” then.
Posted on | April 7, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
It would seem that there are no limits to the ambitions of the German Socialist President (Speaker) of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who wants to be the European Commission’s next President.
Whether his bid will be successful or not depends to a large extent of the outcome of European elections end of May. Mr.Schulz, who has hopes that after the elections his Socialist group might become the strongest in numbers (not because of a rise in popularity, but because the conservative “European People’s Party” (EPP) are expected to lose a lot of their seats to more right-wing groups), has for years manoeuvred to establish a principle according which each group should present a front-running candidate, who would then become the next Commission President. Needless to say, he himself is the Socialists’ front runner: so if the Socialists win, he will pretend he has an entitlement to get the top job. In actual fact, he speculates on the electoral success of the far right at the expense of EPP.
There are, however, two problems for Mr. Schulz. One is that the EU treaty actually does not foresee the popular election of the Commission President. Under the Treaty of Lisbon the European Council, when proposing a candidate, has to take into account the results of the latest European elections and, furthermore, the Parliament elects, rather than simply approves, the Council’s proposed candidate. But the selection of the candidate is still the Council’s prerogative, and no candidate will be proposed who is not endorsed by his own government. Thus, it is ultimately Angela Merkel who will decide whether she wants Schulz to be Germany’s man in the next Commission.
The second problem is that Schulz, while being a successful apparatchik inside the European Parliament, is less of a sympathy-bearer outside the hermetic world of the EU’s institutions. It is hardly likely that his candidacy will draw many extra votes for the Socialists outside Mr. Schulz’s own circumscription in North-Rhine Westphalia. In other parts of Germany (such as Bavaria), and even more in German-speaking Austria, Mr. Schulz is not thought of as being an appealing candidate, but rather as someone whom one should not put on any campaign posters if one doesn’t want to drive away potential voters. And outside the German-speaking countries, it is even less likely that voters will be enthusiastic about a German Commission President, when in fact in Southern Europe the main concern of many voters is to get rid of German austerity policies.
But while he is still President of the European Parliament, Mr. Schulz is sparing no efforts to strengthen his power base. Brussels insiders are aghast at his attempts to place his people in key positions in the Parliament administration before his two-and-a-half-year mandate comes to an end this June. Former Presidents have usually managed to get promotions for one or two of their top advisers, but the scale of the Schulz power grab is unprecedented.
If all goes according to his plan, the Parliament’s appointing authority for senior positions (the Bureau) will on 14 April, at its final meeting before the European elections, confirm the appointments of no less than six of Schulz’s advisers to be either Directors General (the top layer of EU management) or Directors (the next layer down).
The expected appointments are:
Markus Winkler as Director General for the Presidency (which will give him control over such key functions as the running of EP Plenary Sessions, Protocol, and the legal-linguistic finalising of all EU legislative texts).
Herwig Kaiser as Director General for Personnel (which will give him control over all general recruitment procedures, open competitions for the EP civil service; and make him the appointing authority for every one of the several thousand Assistant grade posts on the EP staff).
Maria-Jose Martinez Iglesias as a Director in the EP Legal Service (responsible for giving legal advice on all legislative files before EP parliamentary committees).
Monika Strasser as Director for EP Budget Affairs (which will put her in charge of the secretariats for the powerful Committee for Budgets and the Committee for Budget Control, key to shaping Parliament’s position on the annual EU budget, for which the Parliament shares power with the 28 national governments).
Lorenzo Mannelli as a Director in the EP Directorate General for Finances (which will give him responsibility for a large part of the EP’s internal administrative budget, including Members’ salaries, expenses and allowances).
Alexandre Stutzmann as a Director in the EP Directorate General for External Policies in charge of Democracy and Human Rights Promotion.
With these appointments, all of them through administrative procedures, one is tempted to wonder why the EU still needs parliamentary elections…
Keeping it in the family
The last of these top appointments is particularly interesting because Mr Stutzmann just happens to be “married” to the Head of Secretariat for the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee, a certain Silvio Gonzato. However, in a deal concocted between President Schulz and his socialist comrade Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s “Foreign Minister”, Mr Gonzato is due to be appointed Director for Human Rights in the European External Action Service. If all these appointments go ahead, it will mean Messrs Stutzmann and Gonzato will between them manage the Human Rights departments of the EP and the EEAS.
They will be a very happy couple indeed. One can easily imagine what the EU’s policy on human rights will look like, if it is monopolized by this type of “experts”. Maybe we will soon see the diplomats of all EU countries uneasily trodding along with all “gay-pride” parades world wide, as US ambassadors are already now obliged to do under the Obama administration…
Such a blatant attempt at nepotism and cronyism has not gone unnoticed inside the EP. Last week the Parliament adopted a series of amendments in the course of the budget discharge procedure in which attention has been drawn to these abuses of power, and which even take the unprecedented step of naming individuals in parliamentary amendments. A majority of 399 MEPs from different political groups called on Schulz to separate the office of – bipartisan – President of the Parliament from his campaign activities. In addition, the plenary requested information on how Schulz kept separate his official duties as parliament president from his campaign activities.
One of the seven political groups in the EP – the Greens – were the first to speak out about these outrages and already a month ago called on Mr Schulz to step aside; in particular they underlined the conflict of interest between Schulz’s role as EP President (supposed to be a neutral role above party politics) while at the same time being the official candidate of the Party of European Socialists to be the next President of the European Commission (the EU executive branch).
The Greens specifically cited the use by Schulz of EP resources for political campaigning. The most egregious example of this was when Schulz ‘kidnapped’ the 80,000 Twitter followers that had been built up over two years with the use of EP staff and resources, and reassigned them to his Socialist Party campaign profile.
Less obvious is the fact that Mr Schulz has a total of 10 full-time staff on the EP payroll, who officially serve as the press office of the EP President, but who in fact are running his media campaign. This is a bigger press office by far than those of any of his predecessors, none of whom in any case ran campaigns to be Commission President.
The Schulz Press Team also includes another precedent, a full time press officer in Schulz’s home country, in this case a certain Mr Markus Engels based at the EP Information Office in Berlin for the past two years. For his loyal service to Schulz, Mr Engels, who is not an EP official but a long-time party hack, is soon to be rewarded with a specially-created post as “Head of Media Intelligence” at the EP’s Directorate General for Communications.
The irony of seeking to foist a man, known jokingly by journalists as “Marx ‘n Engels”, onto the EP in a post with the Orwellian title of ‘Head of Media Intelligence’ is clearly lost on Schulz. But his totalitarian tendencies at controlling information do not stop there. In the same EP budget discharge vote on 3 April, a large majority of MEPs voted for an amendment simply seeking clarification from President Schulz regarding the various allegations of abuse of power. But even this was too much for Comrade Martin, so he used a procedural trick to delete from the text the offending paragraphs.
MEPs, furious at the overturning of a democratic vote in the chamber by a President determined to save his own bacon, responded by postponing the final vote on the budget discharge until 15 April – in other words after the EP Bureau of 14 April when Schulz plans to ram through the appointments of six of his advisers to EP top management jobs.
Expect a showdown in Strasbourg between the European Parliament and its President. If Schulz wins, there will be no stopping him. If he can manage this level of politicisation of the EP administration in a mere two years, imagine the prospect of an all-powerful Schulz presidency of the European Commission for up to 10 years.
The best advice for all European citizens who do not want the EU to be run in this way is: don’t cast your vote for the Socialists in the upcoming EU elections.
Posted on | April 4, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Yet another hate-crime committed by gay activists.
March 2014: A new governmental sex ed curriculum of Baden-Württemberg has caused outrage among Christian parents. Several manifestions suffered serious attacks by left wing activists which were later identified as LGBT activists.
Christian parents who peacefully asserted their right to decide on the education of their children (Art 2 of the 1st Protocol to the European Human Rights Convention) were shouted at with obscenities. They were spit at, eggs were thrown and little bags with feces or color Pages were ripped out of the Bible and used to wipe backsides, then formed into a ball and thrown at the parents.
This is reveals the true character of the same-sex lobby.
More information, including links to video footage, is here.
Posted on | April 3, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
At a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing yesterday US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers was asked to comment on the failure of the senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ranking member Lowey wanted the Ambassador’s thoughts for the record. Powers parroted Secretary Kerry’s position, that the US needs to ratify CRPD to show leadership to the rest of the world.
Last Fall in two hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expert witnesses presented problems with ratifying the Convention. Language within the treaty could promote abortion rights, infringe on parental rights, and cause fiscal burdens to homeowners and small businesses. Experts said the amendments the Obama administration argue would protect US sovereignty were inadequate.
Posted on | March 26, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
Friday was World Down Syndrome Day. If you have not watched this video, you have to!
While this video was being presented in the Economic and Social Council Chamber at a World Down Syndrome Day Event at UN headquarters in New York, abortion groups were trying to have abortion recognized as a human right in a conference room immediately underneath the ECOSOC Chamber. How sad!
Belgium’s terrible decline: After euthanasia-on-demand for children, the next step is euthanasia without-demand
Posted on | March 24, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Joseph Conrad once coined the term “heart of darkness” to describe the atrocities of the Belgian colonial rule in what today is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nowadays, however, the heart of darkness seems to be closer to home: in Belgium itself. By adopting a law that makes euthanasia available for minors, Belgium has surpassed its neighbours Netherlands and Luxembourg as the most euthanasia-friendly jurisdiction in the world, and must now be regarded as a world-wide champion of the Culture of Death.
The new law allows euthanasia for minors without any lower age limit, albeit with parental consent.
It is certainly strange that a legal system, in which children are below 14 are generally considered unable to form any legally relevant decision should nevertheless attach relevance to a declaration by which a child gives up its right to live. Leading paediatricians have vocally opposed the law, saying they had never seen, or heard of, a child asking for euthanasia. Like in all cases of euthanasia, or even more than in other cases, one has strong reasons to ask whether the objective is really to cater for the interests of the person to be euthanized. Is there not a risk – in particular for young children below the age of reason, that “mercy killing” will be imposed on them, because their parents are overwhelmed by the task of caring for them, and because healthcare providers suggest that caring for the sick child is not worth the expense? And is it really true that euthanasia will be restricted to the terminally ill, that would die within a few days anyway? Is it not much more likely that the law will soon be used to end the lives of children with a handicap – i.e., children that will require life-long care, but that could nevertheless still live for decades? It is an open secret that the practice of euthanasia, in all countries that have legalized it, by far surpasses the cases officially targeted by the law. But this is an inconvenient truth, and public authorities do not seem keen to find out about it.
Whoever has had the privilege of making personal acquaintance with Philippe, the King of the Belgians, knows that he is a devout Catholic with a sound moral judgment who sincerely tries to act according to his faith, and that he had strong objections to sign the controversial bill into law. Many have hoped, therefore, that he would refuse to do so, petitioning him to refuse his signature. But unfortunately, he seems to have lacked the courage that would have been required in this situation. He signed, and the Belgian press praised him for having “perfectly accomplished his role as a Head of State”.
When Belgium legalized abortion in 1990, then King Baudouin (the present King’s uncle) refused to sign the bill, declaring that he could not do so in good conscience.
However, he accepted a solution according which he was declared incapable of fulfilling his royal prerogative for one day – which empowered the government to promulgate the law without the King’s signature. This was, however, a clear misuse of the Constitution – and while it allowed the King to keep his hands clean, it strangely re-framed the matter as if the problem was the King’s demoded moral opinions rather than the fact that the new law collectively stripped an entire category of human beings of their most fundamental human rights.
Despite all the praise that King Baudouin earned at the time for having refused to sign the abortion bill, a bad precedent was thereby set. His brother Albert II, who was King from 1993 to 2013, had no objections to sign into law the bills that legalized euthanasia (for adults) and same-sex marriage. This was maybe one of the main reasons why King Philippe did not find the courage to stand up against the Euthanasia-for-children law: it would have required him to publicly distance himself from his father, who is still alive. But by signing this law, Philippe has in fact abdicated every ambition to be a true King, i.e., a personality who can take action out of its own right. He is now nothing more than a well-paid public notary. What will he do if the Belgian Parliament adopts even worse legislation than this one?
And apparently this day is not far away. With accepting abortion, Belgium (like other EU countries) has entered a slippery slope on which one step downwards is logically followed by the next. The nadir of the moral decline is yet to be reached, and there is still worse to come.
In an op-ed that was published by the newspaper “Le Soir” on February 25th, Jean-Louis Vincent, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), who was one of the leading protagonists in pushing for the legalization of euthanasia in Belgium, announced that the current regime is still not liberal enough for him. Indeed, having pushed through (without a lot of opposition) the euthanasia-on-demand for children, the next logical step for him is to legalize abortion-without-demand. He writes:
We believe that we must still go further. This is why the Société belge de soins intensifs has signed a document that has recently been published in the Journal of Critical Care (2014 Feb; 29(1) : 174-5) . The text clearly specifies that “the discussion here is about the administration of sedative agents with the direct intention of shortening the process of terminal palliative care in patients with no prospect of a meaningful recovery”. And it explicates the practice of unasked-for euthanasia in its point 6: “Shortening the dying process with use of medication, such as analgesics/sedatives, may sometimes be appropriate, even in the absence of discomfort, and can actually improve the quality of dying; this approach can also help relatives accompany their loved one through the dying process—such a decision should be made with due consideration for the wishes of family members.”
Our country needs a law that … authorizes the administration of medicaments that shorten a person’s life if the quality of that life has become too mediocre. And this should be possible without requiring that the person concerned has signed any document.
No, this is not slander. I am not making this up. This is what this medical expert really has written, and what he proudly advertises in one of the country’s leading newspapers. (It is perhaps unsurprising that the ULB is Belgium’s “masonic” university, which requires anyone aspiring to a professorship to sign a statement that he does not believe in any “revealed truth”, i.e. that he has no religion.
It is, by the way, remarkable how the argument is shifting. So far, euthanasia advocates have always claimed that what they were really fighting for was “self-determination”. Now, all of a sudden, it turns out that they are not at all in favour of self-determination, but that in fact they are against it. Unasked-for euthanasia is the radical opposite of “self-determination”.
If Mr. Vincent’s proposal becomes reality, then it will become outright dangerous for sick people in Belgium to make an appointment with their doctor or, even worse, to go to a hospital. Who knows – maybe the doctor will determine that your life-quality is “too mediocre”, and will simply kill you. It would be perfectly legal for him to do so. Soon there will be no more clarity about what the purpose of a doctor’s activity is: to heal or to kill?
Clearly something has gone terribly wrong in Belgian society. This country is moribund.
Posted on | March 19, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
Abortion and sexual rights groups like Planned Parenthood and the UN Population Fund are always looking for a new funding stream. The Obama administration has willingly obliged with both groups receiving more funding then any previous administration.
However, this is not enough. With tens of millions of dollars going to humanitarian aid groups to assist in conflict and disaster regions – Planned Parenthood and others want a piece of it. At a recent meeting at the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, IPPF and UNFPA set out to make their case.
Global humanitarian groups have a long history of dealing with vulnerable women and girls during crisis situations when they have been displaced from their homes.
Let’s not allow abortion groups to re-brand themselves as humanitarian organizations. Contact your member of Congress and tell them so.
Posted on | March 17, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
The easiest victory is when your adversaries cannibalize each other. Such a thing happened in last week’s plenary session of the European Parliament, where the supporters of two different versions of a radical-feminist “initiative report” neutralized each other, which finally paved the way for the best of all possible outcomes: neither of the two texts was adopted.
I admit that the whole thing appeared rather late on our radar screens, so that I wasn’t able to report on this earlier. The scenaripo was similar to that of the defeated “Estrela-Report”. Once again, a radical draft for a (legally non-binding) has emanated from the Parliament’s ominous Committee on Women’s Rights (FEMM), which is something like a sheltered workshop for radical feminists in the EP. Given that the radical elements are more or less amongst themselves in that committee, they are able to draft the most extremist policy papers, which then are tabled and voted in the Parliament’s plenary.
This time, it was a report on equality between women and men in the European Union, drafted by Ines Cristina Zuber, a member of Portugal’s hard-core Communist Party.
Her draft is yet another glaring example of how nowadays communists and other radical politicians have appropriated the vocabulary of human rights to embellish their anti-human-rights agenda: the draft called inter alia for the recognition of “right to voluntary termination of pregnancy”, the legal recognition of same-sex “marriages”, the introduction of compulsory “gender education” at schools, and the complete elimination from all school textbooks of any suggestion that a women could find fulfilment in her role as a mother, or a care-giver.
The text expresses not only a deep-rooted hatred against the institution of marriage and family, but it also negates the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children, the right of children to be raised by their parents, and the right to life for unborn human being. Perhaps the most typically “Communist” feature is the call for gender-based quota systems in private enterprises and in politics. In other words, enterprises should not be free to select managers solely on the basis of their qualification, and citizens should not be free to elect for political offices whomever they want, but management positions and political mandates should be allocated according to quotas. With such a request, the draft report frontally attacks the fundamental right to property and the foundational principles of democratic government. Paradoxically, it does so in the name of human rights.
This dose of Communism was too much even for the European People’s Party, which despite having absorbed quite a bit of feminist/homosexualist ideology over the last few years, did not want to lend its full and unlimited support to Mrs. Zuber’s ultra-radical draft. It therefore tabled an alternative text. But that text, despite being less radical, was still full of absurdities: like the Zuber draft, it was based on a narrow-minded feminist ideology, failed to recognize the unique contribution of stable marriages and families for the common good of society, and pushed for gender quotas. In other words, it was just a downgraded version of the Zuber draft, not a real alternative to it. It really seems that the EPP have given up all the moral and intellectual stances for which they were elected.
At some very late moment in time, civil society became aware of what was going on, and the courageous NGO CitizenGO launched an online petition on the internet asking MEPs to vote both against the Zuber Report and the alternative EPP draft. Within a very short stretch of time, that petition was supported by more than 50.000 citizens.
But at the end what happened was the following: the EPP draft was the first to be voted – but, expecting that the ultra-radical Zuber draft might stand a chance of being adopted in toto – the Communists, Socialists, and Greens voted against it. So did some of the more conservative MEPS, so that the (more moderate, but still bad) EPP draft was rejected. However, the EPP took had its revenge when the Zuber draft was put to vote, which as a result was also rejected. The winners of the day were those who considered that the interest of women was not promoted by either of the two drafts, and that therefore neither should be adopted.
It was a narrow and lucky victory. We should be happy about it – but we should work in particular with the EPP to make sure that human rights language is not used in the European Parliament to promote Communist anti-human-rights policies.
Sensation: EU Fundamental Rights Agency makes progress on research methodology. But there is still much room for improvement.
Posted on | March 17, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
The EU’s controversial Fundamental Rights Agency has recently published a new survey, this time on “Violence against Women“.
Since the Agency was set up in 2007, its legal expertise and social research have drawn severe criticism because of their glaring ideological bias and apparent lack of quality. The latest example was a so-called “LGBT Survey” published in 2013, which disrespected even the most basic rules of serious-minded social research. In particular, it was based on responses to a questionnaire that could be anonymously filled in on the internet, without any control of who responded, and without any firewall to prevent multiple responses from one and the same person. The results of that survey, which cost EU taxpayers nearly 400.000 Euro, were therefore devoid of any scientific relevance – it was bogus science that served an apparent propagandistic purpose.
As I hear, the FRA’s director Morten Kjaerum is an assiduous reader of this blog. If that is so, it may well be that our critique of the LGBT Survey has convinced him that the FRA must improve the methodology of its research. The new report on “Violence against Women” represents – as we are happy to acknowledge – a first step forward. As one can read in the technical report, this survey is based on interviews with a randomly selected representative sample of women throughout Europe, and is therefore more likely to reflect the reality on the ground than the ominous “LGBT Survey”.
Yet there still are some critical points:
First, the report makes rather sensational statements, such as:
• 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women.
• 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner.
However, if one takes a closer look one finds that the term “violence” is not very well circumscribed, so that widely different cases can be added up to arrive at these high figures. In other words, the report appears to be written with the intention of aggrandizing the problem.
Second, the report appears to be based on some pre-ordained gender stereotypes that it seeks to confirm: women are victims of violence, and men are perpetrators. Violence perpetrated by women against men will not appear in this study, simply because it is outside the study’s scope. But this means that the FRA does not wee this part of reality because it does not want to see it.
This lop-sided and stereotyping approach is certainly strange at a time when it emerges that domestic violence perpetrated by women is just as frequent (if not more) than violence perpetrated by men. I recommend to the attention of my readers (and especially to Morten, if he reads this) the following reports:
- Why are so many MEN becoming victims of domestic violence? (Daily Mail, 4 December 2013)
- The invisible domestic violence – against men (The Guardian, 7 June 2011)
- Les hommes aussi sont victimes de violence conjugale (Le Figaro, 26 August 2010)
- Gewalt gegen Männer: “Ich habe die Messer im Haus versteckt” (Der Spiegel, 28 May 2013)
So maybe the FRA’s next big survey could be more gender-neutral – this could help in putting findings into perspective. Important discoveries are only made by those who have an open mind.
Posted on | March 12, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
Despite scientific research finding women using the contraceptive Depo Provera are at higher risk to transmit HIV/AIDS and develop breast cancer, Planned Parenthood plans to widely distribute the injectable to women in Zambia.
Abortion advocates are lauding the Zambian governments decision to create, for the first time, a line item within the country’s budget for the procurement of contraceptive supplies – $9.3 million.
The successful advocacy which led to securing the funding from the Zambian government, is being attributed to the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) from a $50,000 advocacy grant awarded to them.
The advocacy grants flow from the Advance Family Planning initiative established through the UK Family Planning Summit in July 2012, which partnered with Melinda Gates and the United Nations Population Fund. The goal of the summit was to secure commitments from pharmaceutical companies, Foundations, and governments to scale-up the delivery of modern methods of contraceptive to 120 million women and girls in low-income countries by 2020 – $4.6 billion was committed.
The Fund is part of a 5-year AFP project providing grants to reproductive rights groups – like Planned Parenthood, to target high birth rate countries to secure these governments financial investment and political commitment to assure access to contraceptives, especially long-acting methods like injectables. The same groups receiving funding for advocacy will later receive funding for the distribution of the contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood of Zambia Executive Director Edford G. Mutuma said next on the agenda was to increase the distribution of injectable contraceptives through community health workers.
The harmful side effects of Depo Provera have been largely ignored by reproductive rights stakeholders due to the millions of dollars already committed to manufacture and distribute it.
“Planned Parenthood, the largest distributer of Depo Provera for drug company Pfizer, conceals lethal side effects from African women while Pfizer generates record sales of up to 36 billion dollars, said Kwame Fosu, a human rights activist disparaged by his reproductive rights peers for sounding the alarm on the injectable contraceptive.
Fosu, Director of International Affairs at the Rebecca Project for Human Rights provided the following response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement that they will seek channels to widely distribute Depo in Zambia:
“Depo Provera and Norplant are termed the “DDT of contraceptives” by human rights advocates, because the drugs are highly toxic and produce debilitating side effects. Depo Provera significantly increases the incidence HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and other diseases. Alarm bells should sound off across Africa especially after Israel banned and restricted Depo Provera to protect African women living in Israel. Zambian health officials should recognize that Depo Provera is a drug created to decimate populations, women are not only left childless, but the serious terminal diseases they develop cannot be treated easily in Africa. Our African leaders should also be cognizant of the fact that Depo Provera is banned or restricted in India, Europe, and the United States as detailed in this report by the Rebecca Project for Justice.”
The Advance Family Planning program receives the bulk of its funding from foundations noted for population control efforts — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The Opportunity Fund is managed by Population Action International, a longtime supporter of population reduction programs in Africa including sterilizations and abortions.
Posted on | February 28, 2014 by Wendy Wright
British civil servants are busily re-writing 700 years of laws to accommodate the “Same Sex Marriage Act,” which goes into effect in March.
Lest anyone thinks same-sex unions are equal to man-and-woman, the British made clear in the Act that it does not apply rights to anyone “who marries, or who is married to, the King Regnant, to the title of Queen”.
Neither can a “husband” of a future Prince of Wales become a Princess of Wales.
The same for Dukes, Earls and other royalty.
Another exception is the Treason Act of 1351. To “violate the King’s companion” — the husband or wife of the monarch — is high treason. But this will not apply if the spouse is the same sex.
“They presumably don’t want to end up with the situation of, for example, there being two duchesses or a man with the title of duchess,” Julian Lipson, head of the family law practice at Withers LLP, told the Telegraph.
Christian Concern reports:
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This week, MPs approved sweeping changes to legislation dating back as far as 1285AD to avoid unintended consequences of the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act 2013.
Meanwhile, a leading lawyer has pointed out that anomalies raised by the new legislation mean that the UK Government must admit that “equalness of same-sex marriage has its limits”.
A committee of MPs voted in favour of a draft order outlining amendments to 36 Acts going back to 1859 and an additional 67 pieces of legislation dating back 729 years.
Under the proposals, references to mother, father, husband and wife will be amended, whilst a number of other laws, including the 1351 Treason Act, will be excluded from the new legislation.
This means that while it will remain high treason to have sexual relations with the wife of a future King, this will not be the case where adultery is committed with a King’s same-sex ‘spouse’.
The order makes clear that a man who ‘marries’ a King of Britain cannot be referred to as Queen, and the same-sex partner of a future Prince of Wales cannot be entitled Princess of Wales.
The amendments, described by critics as a “complete mess”, extend to dukes, earls and other male peers in order to stop same-sex partners from becoming a duchess, countess or lady.
The term “widow” will also be removed or replaced with “surviving spouse” or in some instances with the “woman whose deceased spouse was a man”.
Amendments are even proposed to the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, which allows cab licenses of deceased husbands to be transferred to their widows by way of a London cab order.
A date has not been set for the debate of a further order which sets out proposals for the provision of fertility treatment for same-sex couples.
Commenting on the proposals, Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: “The Government was warned time and again that its plans would result in legal confusion and do away with the common understanding of historic terms such as ‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘widow’”.
“We now have a situation where laws dating back 700 years must be revised and tampered with in order to accommodate the new legislation. Proposed amendments in areas ranging from cab licenses to royal titles show what a mess the Government has created.
“It is now attempting to disguise the absurdities thrown up by the move by rushing the changes through Parliament at a time when other high-profile issues are dominating media attention.”