Why does the world still ignore 2.6M stillborn children every year?

Posted on | May 20, 2014 by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

Why are the nearly three million children who die on their birth day every year still ignored? This is the question posed by a report released today in the Lancet. And it’s the question that should be on the table at the World Health Assembly  this week in Geneva. The high number of deaths hasn’t changed over the years, and neither it seems have the reasons for the utter failure of the world’s maternal health policy elite–see my blog of three years ago.

Delegates interested in making a real difference through the nascent Sustainable Development Goals now under negotiation will be keen on the report’s findings that what could save millions of maternal and newborn lives in the coming years is straightforward: more skilled birth attendants and better health facilities.

LinkedInShare

Pacific Island Bishops Warn of “Outside” Abortion Pressure

Posted on | May 16, 2014 by Wendy Wright

Papua New Guinea is a deeply Christian country — as the prime minister’s Easter message beautifully and unashamedly conveys.

This week, Christian leaders — clearly respected in Papua New Guinea — issued a warning of “outside” forces seeking to push abortion in their country.

It comes on the heels of a UN meeting where Papua New Guinea’s ambassador pushed abortion and sexual rights. The annual meeting of the UN Commission on Population and Development is easily overlooked by small governments that cannot keep track of what their delegations at the UN are doing.

But the ambassador’s position was so odd that I contacted newspapers in Papua New Guinea to find out if they were aware that their government was promoting abortion and sexual rights.

A few weeks later the Catholic bishops released an open letter to their political leaders, stating in part:

Today we face new and dangerous trends we feel compelled to speak about. Traditionally Papua New Guineans have always been open to new life, to children born to their families. Abortion, which the majority of our citizens find abhorrent, remains illegal in Papua New Guinea. However, political leaders face great pressures from within and outside of PNG to take another view. Will the PNG Government one day decide that killing the unborn child is a good thing for PNG, something that will bring the blessing of God upon our people? We pray that our leaders will never bow to this temptation for political and economic gain.

This brings us to another concern of the Catholic Church, the growing political ideology that links development with population control. The thinking of many politicians these days aims them in this direction. Why is it, they wonder, that education and health services are rapidly worsening in Papua New Guinea, and what can be done about it? And look at all the unemployed and frustrated young people who gather on the streets of our towns and cities every day looking for opportunity where there is none. This is becoming a dangerous situation. What can we do?

Unfortunately, instead of looking creatively for positive solutions, government seems to have settled on a strategy that does not address the underlying causes of our decline. Many politicians think that population growth, too many people, is the culprit. Put the brakes on having babies and everything will be okay again, they say. Thus the door is opened for such organizations as Marie Stopes to come in and temporarily “sterilize” great numbers of women as a way to slow the growth of population. Hormonal implants are promoted and injected on a massive scale with little thought about the physical, emotional and social effects on young girls and women and on the community as a whole.

Have you, our political leaders, really thought this through? Do you know what the people of your electorates might think about this strategy? Do you worry about what could be the consequences of tampering with nature in this way? Do you really believe that population control, seemingly an easy-fix, will actually work, will solve the serious problems we continue to face? Such a young, proud and energetic independent nation, and now some want to take aim at fertility as the solution to our troubles?

We are all fond of speaking about the great riches of our country, of our culturally diverse population and its energy. We rejoice in the great wealth contained in the abundance of the natural resources God has put here in our care. Perhaps a much better plan would be to link these two things, our wealth and the natural growth of a vibrant population, as we seek to find the secret to becoming a successful nation with prosperity, peace and justice for all.

They have reason to worry. The UN Population Fund and Planned Parenthood initiated a scheme targeting Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands to impose abortion and sexual rights.

The UN Population Fund (responsible for crafting China’s one-child policy) and Planned Parenthood held a meeting in SE Asia with a hodge-podge of people holding government jobs in Pacific islands (they were not representing their governments).

They signed the Moana Declaration, a statement clearly written by radical abortion/sexual rights advocates.

Here is a UNFPA article lauding the Moana Declaration. Note that it admits it is not an agreement by governments, but a commitment by individuals:

“Participants also agreed to institutionalize mechanisms through which support whether technical, advocacy or otherwise, could be generated by a political leader wishing to advance issues related to the ICPD or sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Random officials signed this declaration. They were urged to get onto their government delegations (and probably had their expenses paid) to, what turned out to be, a key UN meeting held this April.

At the UN Commission on Population and Development, the ambassador for Papua New Guinea declared the Pacific islands endorsed the Moana Declaration.

By the end of the Commission, after Pacific island governments were notified of their delegations actions, many were silent. The UN Population Fund couldn’t muster support for the radical agenda – and even distanced itself from their radical agenda, preferring to obfuscate their goals.

Abortion and sexual rights advocates have failed at creating international rights. They’ve broadened their approach to infiltrating inside governments.

Christian leaders in Papua New Guinea are onto them.

LinkedInShare

On Int’l Day of Family, U.S. Attacks Notion of ‘Male & Female’

Posted on | May 15, 2014 by Wendy Wright

Today is the International Day of the Family. The Holy See held a terrific event (more will be reported on that) with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders. UN officials also held a high-level event in a formal room with experts providing research on the critical role of the family for individuals and society.

What did the U.S. (absent from the events) have to say on this one day set aside to honor the family?

The Department of State released a joint statement with Finland on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

A search on its website for any mention, at any time, of a Day of Family turned up nothing.

With the two UN events, it is not likely the Int’l Day of the Family took the U.S. by surprise. It was sending a message. Despite talk of equality and human rights, certain people take priority over the most important people and institution necessary for individuals’ well-being.

And it was a not-so subtle attack on the foundation of the family: parents, male and female.

Their actions speak more about the pettiness of the current U.S. leadership than it does about the importance of the family. Try as they might, they won’t diminish people’s devotion and celebration of their family by hijacking the day into a mean-spirited attack on the fact we are created male or female.

LinkedInShare

ECLJ at the UN: Abortion is torture and a violation of children’s rights

Posted on | May 15, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D

The ECLJ, in a report addressed today to the UN, denounces the killing of babies who survive abortion in theUnited Kingdom, within the context of the periodic review of theUnited Kingdom by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

 

According to some United Nations experts, opposing abortion would be a kind of torture, it would also be a violation of children’s rights. Such an accusation is scandalous; it strongly undermines free speech and religious freedom and questions the impartiality of some prominent members of the Committee. It was formulated recently against the Holy-See by members of the UN Committee against Torture combating the teaching of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of life.

Earlier this year, in February, another UN Committee, on the Rights of the Child (CRC), “urged” the Holy-See to review its position on abortion and to amend Canon law in order to allow it. This UN Committee pretended that opposing abortion would violate the rights of the child, omitting the fact that the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the “needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”.

The Holy-See answered those accusations by stating that its goal is, indeed, “to prevent children from being tortured or killed before birth, as is stipulated in the Convention”. UN Committees are composed of “experts” designated by the Member states. They are often academics or NGO activists with a political background.

Those accusations against the moral opposition to abortion is the last move of a long term strategy to impose on States, through International law and agencies, a “human right to abortion”, and making opposition to abortion a crime. The abortion lobbies are currently very active as they want access to abortion to be included in the “post-2015 development agenda”, under the pretext of improving maternal health worldwide. This post-2015 agenda, under negotiation at the UN, will determine the priority development goals for decades to come. It will be supported by billions of dollars, and governments will have to implement it. Therefore, the issue at stake is huge.

In the past decades, especially during theCairoandBeijingconferences on population, development and women, the pro-abortion forces were stopped by a coalition of States lead by the Holy-See. This explains the current operation of destabilisation and attacks against the Catholic Church in the UN: it is aimed at weakening its influence during subsequent negotiations.

The ultimate goal of the abortion strategy is to win on the field of values: making pro-life immoral and pro-abortion moral, and to silence pro-life advocacy. This would be a complete inversion of values: indeed, in reality, abortion is torture and causes maternal mortality. Abortion, whether legal or not, not only kills a human being but also carries serious physical and psychological health risks and contributes to maternal mortality. Countries that restrict abortion have lower maternal mortality rates than those who facilitate it.

 

Responding to those attacks, the ECLJ, as an NGO with consultative status with the ECOSOC of the United-Nations, has actively denounced abortion, especially late-term abortion, as a specific kind of torture and violation of children’s rights.

- In March 2014, the ECLJ made an oral intervention and a written statement (A/HRC/25/NGO/91) before the Human Rights Council of the UN, in Geneva, denouncing the practice of late-term abortion and the killing of babies who survive it.

- Then, in April 2014, inan “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ called on the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to carry out an investigation on children who survive late-term abortion, and on methods of late-term abortion, especially in the United Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies who survived an abortion were left to die, and in 2005, the United Kingdom recorded 66 such cases. The ECLJ affirms that cruel methods of late-term abortion constitute torture, especially one known as dilatation and evacuation – the foetus, still alive, is dismembered and pulled out of the womb in pieces. The ECLJ expects the Special Rapporteur to take action.

- Currently, the ECLJ is also leading a coalition of NGOs denouncing before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the killing of babies who survive abortion, within the context of the periodical review of the United Kingdom. Today, it submits a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This Committee should question theUK government on our accusations and take them into consideration for the drafting of the official report.

 

The ECLJ will continue advocating for the respect of life, both within the UN and the European institutions, using all legal procedures available.

 

While there is clear evidence of hundreds of real cases of torture and infanticides in countries such as theUKandCanada, the question is whether the UN Human Rights bodies, such as UN Committees on the Rights of the Child and against Torture will prove themselves competent and independent enough to fulfil their obligations. Today, there is an urgent need for them to prove their fairness.

 

LinkedInShare

US Lawmakers, Abortion Groups use Nigerian Kidnapping for Political Gain

Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Lisa Correnti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week US lawmakers used the Nigerian kidnapping crisis to introduce the latest version of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

Versions of IVAWA have been introduced in every Congress for the past several years. Supporting policy that will safeguard women and girls from violence especially where they are most at risk, in conflict regions in developing countries, should have support from both democrats and republicans.

Why then have republican lawmakers rejected it? Because a primary goal within IVAWA is to advance a very strategic sexual and reproductive rights agenda sure to include US funding of abortion.

While some elements of the bill do address the safety of women and girls, the bill establishes as the implementing guideline — for offices and initiatives established by the Obama administration to outline and define all programs. This would include defining programs on sexual and reproductive health and LGBT issues. The funding of advocacy efforts to overturn restrictive laws on abortion and homosexual marriage is sure to be included.

Since President Obama took office overseas assistance for Family Planning has been prioritized over all other global health initiatives with a funding stream that has almost doubled with hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to abortion providers.

Introduced by Senator Boxer – a longtime supporter of unrestricted access to abortion and sexual rights for adolescents, passage of IVAWA is supported by international abortion groups knowing they will be recipients of more US funding – IVAWA states that 10% of appropriated funding must flow to women-run organizations.

Reproductive rights and abortion groups are rallying supporters with the usual rhetoric and writing op-eds trumpeting IVAWA as the solution to abuses like the Nigerian girls kidnapping.

If this bill has any chance of passing, lawmakers must amend with language that defines a comprehensive plan that is deliberate in its efforts to combat violence against women and rejects the radical feminist ideology that is being mainstreamed throughout our foreign policy by the State Department. IVAWA would codify these initiatives which we would be stuck with long after Obama has left Washington.

 

LinkedInShare

Navi Pillay Listens to Holy Father’s Speech to U.N. Officials

Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

LinkedInShare

UN Committee Equates Church’s Prohibition of Abortion with Torture

Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D

C-FAM’s Stefano Gennarini has a new article at First Things discussing the recent meeting in Geneva between the representative of the Holy See and the UN Committee Against Torture.

During the meeting, the US  expert Felice Gaer opined that prohibiting abortion is a form of torture, to which Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Silvano Tomasi replied that abortion itself is torture.

Gennarini discusses how the committee were unable to grasp the concept of separation of Church and State – because in their worldview, only the State exists.

The committee will publish its official report by the end of the month – and Gennarini predicts it “won’t be good for the Holy See.”

LinkedInShare

Pope to U.N. Heads: Unborn Children are “Our Brothers and Sisters”

Posted on | May 9, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

The Holy Father met today with the heads of U.N. agencies and the Secretary General as the U.N. system is gearing up for the next big thing: the post-2015 development agenda—a set of goals and targets that will be development priorities for governments and international institutions for decades to come. 

Billions of dollars in development aid will be spent on the priorities that find their way into the post-2015 development agenda, and everyone wants a piece of the pie.

Governments, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, private foundations and international organizations that make up the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) establishment have their sights set on getting some of that money, and they want to use it for abortions

Pope Francis, like his predecessors had no qualms about saying where his priorities are.

…an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.

When John Paul II told Nafis Sadik to keep abortion out of U.N. development plans in 1994 because it was a “heinous crime” he got a lot more attention than Francis. The present media blackout on abortion issues is disquieting. The same happened in the middle of the week in Geneva when the Vatican told U.N. Experts that abortion is a form of torture. It is disquieting when the only voice in the world speaking out for millions of unborn human beings is silenced by the media.

The mainstream press focused instead on his comment about “legitimate redistribution of wealth by the state” misunderstanding the emphasis of the Holy Father entirely. The Holy Father was certainly exhorting those present that a generous disposition is essential for authentic human development to take place, but he did not say that every re-distribution is legitimate as the AP seems to suggest, or that he demanded that it take place. That misunderstanding is possibly due to the literal translation of his statement. What the Holy Father actually said is that where redistribution takes place, it should be done in a legitimate way, and that when carried out so, it is indeed legitimate for redistribution to take place. The context of his words is as much Venezuelan style redistribution as the Tea Party uprising in the United States.

The Holy Father also attacked the “throwaway culture” of our times equating it with what his predecessors terms the “culture of death,” and spoke of the need to include the family in development plans. Francis has stated before that abortion is part of a throwaway culture.

LinkedInShare

Amnesty International Can’t Have it Both Ways

Posted on | May 7, 2014 by Lisa Correnti

The international community is outraged or it should be, in the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the militant Islamist group – Boko Haram.

Missing now for three weeks, these girls were kidnapped in the middle of the night from their school with reports that they have been trafficked into sexual slavery or are being sold as child brides.

Amnesty International is right to alert the world to take action in demanding for efforts to return these girls safely home. But, this event should give Amnesty pause, to re-examine a possible policy change advocating for the legalization of prostitution.

A recent event at the UN conference on women featured former prostituted women who condemned human rights groups and UN agencies for supporting the legalization of so-called “sex work.”

Rescued women argue that legalizing prostitution will create a “right” for men to buy sex. This increase in demand for young girls can only be satisfied by an increase in trafficked girls. The average age of a trafficked girl into sexual slavery is 12-13 years old.

Contrary to what is being reported to support legalizing prostitution – most prostituted girls and women want an exit strategy.

Amnesty International should take serious note of this egregious human rights abuse and consider how their future advocacy might endanger more vulnerable young girls.

For more information go to the Coalition Against Trafficked Women: http://www.catwinternational.org/

LinkedInShare

Abortion Advocates Exploit Rape Victims For More Funding

Posted on | May 6, 2014 by Lisa Correnti

More government funding is the goal and abortion groups know how to get it – exploit rape victims.

American taxpayers now fund abortion for rape, incest and health exceptions in Medicaid, for federal employees, federal prisons, military personnel and in the District of Columbia.

Next on the agenda for abortion supporters – the Peace Corp.

President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget proposal includes abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers and abortion supporting members of Congress – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Nita Lowey will introduce bills to permanently provide this coverage.

Sadly, abortion advocates have one solution only in offering help to women that are victims of rape – abortion.  No mention of security protocol to prevent attacks…No mention of counseling services….No mention of the further harm perpetrated on these women when they experience medical and psychological side effects from their abortion.

Abortion groups tell the same narrow story – a victim of rape not able to fund her abortion. What they keep hidden is that abortion providers receive hundreds of millions of dollars from governments, foundations and private donors to provide services to low income women.

There is no need for Americans with deep opposition to abortion to have to fund abortion with their tax dollars.

Members of Congress should oppose the Peace Corp Equity Act.

 

 

 

LinkedInShare

The UN Special Rapporteur On Torture Called To Investigate On Children Born Alive After Late Abortion

Posted on | May 6, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D


In an “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ has called the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion, and on methods of late abortion, especially in the United-Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies born alive after an abortion were left to die, and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005. Some cruel methods of late abortion constitute torture, especially the one called dilatation and evacuation: the foetus, still alive, is dismembered to be pulled out of the womb in pieces.

The ECLJ has communicated to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture cases of torture due to late abortion. Appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture can examine questions relevant to torture in all countries. He transmits urgent appeals to States, undertakes fact-finding country visits and submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

Scientific evidence proves that foetuses and premature babies can feel pain at least as much as adults. Foetuses are responsive to touch at 8 weeks and have the physical structure to experience pain at 20 weeks.

As early as 16 weeks, an infant can survive for a while out of the womb, and it is considered viable at 22 weeks. However, in Canada, there is no legal limit for abortion, even if medical rules recommend limiting abortion on demand to 22 weeks. In the UK, abortion is legal until 24 weeks, and until the end of pregnancy in case of foetal anomaly.
British Department of Health figures show that 2860 abortions at 20 weeks or more were carried out in England and Wales in 2012. In 2012, 160 abortions were done after 24 weeks, including 38 between 28 and 31 weeks, and 28 after 32 weeks. 66 babies were thus aborted after 28 weeks, which was the viability limit defined by the WHO until 1975: an infant born at that gestational age can survive without medical help.

In Canada in 2011, there were 823 abortions between 17 and 20 weeks, 549 after 21 weeks[1]. These figures are severely underestimated since they do not include Quebec (more than 26,000 abortions a year, including over 1500 after 14 weeks) nor clinics, though more than half abortions are done in clinics.

Late abortion being difficult to perform, it happens that babies are born alive after an abortion. In 2007, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology[2] concluded that about 1 in 30 abortions after 16 weeks’ gestation result in a born-alive infant. At 23 weeks’ gestation, the number reached 9.7%. In that case, they are left to die without any care, or killed. The Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists[3] recommends killing these babies by lethal injection. When they are not killed, they are not fed, not even covered, no care is given them even if they were wounded by the attempted abortion. They are left to suffer and die alone. According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2011 in Canada, 622 babies were born alive and left to die after an abortion. They were 66 in 2005 in the United Kingdom, where no statistics were published on this issue the following years.

Concerning Syria, the Special Rapporteur recently stressed that deprival of food, water, shelter and medical care constitutes a crime against humanity. Depriving newborn babies of elementary care, whatever the conditions of their birth, constitutes torture and should also be considered a crime against humanity.

Some methods of abortion, especially dilatation and evacuation, should be banned because of the inhumane suffering they cause for the foetus. According to the statistics of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1226 abortions in 2010 and 1341 in 2011 used the method of dilatation and evacuation in Canadian hospitals (except Quebec and not including clinics)[4], while among the 160 late abortions in England and Wales in 2012, 43% were by dilatation and evacuation.

In the case of dilatation and evacuation, the cervix is dilated, then the “content of the uterus” is pulled out with a clamp. In the end, the pieces are examined to make sure everything has been removed. This means that the body is gathered like a puzzle, because in many cases it has been dismembered during the operation. If there was no feticide injection first, or if the injection did not cause death[5], the foetus was alive while its members were being torn off one after the other. This frightfully cruel method is inhumane and constitutes torture.

 

[1]http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_11_ALLDATATABLES20130221_FR

[2]http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01279.x/abstract

[3]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-512129/66-babies-year-left-die-NHS-abortions-wrong.html and http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/66-british-babies-survived-abortion-all-were-left-to-die-without-medical-ai

[4] 2010: http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_10_ALLDATATABLES20120417_FR; 2011: http://www.cihi.ca/cihi-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_11_ALLDATATABLES20130221_FR

[5] According to a study, the injection effectively induced fetal death in 87% of women. This means that 13 % survived. Nucatola D, Roth N, Gatter M. A randomized pilot study on the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of two doses of digoxin as fetocide when administered intraamniotically or intrafetally prior to second-trimester surgical abortion. Contraception. 2010 Jan;81(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.08.014. Epub . Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20004276

- See more at: http://eclj.org/Releases/Read.aspx?GUID=4109092f-287f-4978-adff-7ab2be452ad6&s=eur#sthash.ZOJEBkR9.dpuf

LinkedInShare

C-Fam: Does the Catholic Church Really Torture Women?

Posted on | May 5, 2014 by Wendy Wright

UN TORTURE COMMITTEE QUESTIONS HOLY SEE ON ABORTION AND BIRTH CONTROL

Committee Suggests Sex Abuse Cases are Church-Sanctioned Torture Methods

NEW YORK, May 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The UN Committee on Torture is grilling the Vatican today and tomorrow in Geneva. The Committee is expected to question the Vatican on abortion, contraception and the sexual abuse of minors, none of which are within the UN Convention Against Torture.

What: Media availability of C-Fam experts with in-depth knowledge of UN treaty-monitoring bodies and how the Member State review panels work; commentary and analysis of the Torture committee’s questions and the Vatican’s response.

When: Vatican representatives appear today and tomorrow before the UN Committee on Torture in Geneva. C-Fam experts will be monitoring both sessions and are available for comment.

Who: Austin Ruse, President of C-Fam, said, “Torture is very real in the world today. But this rampant problem is denigrated when this committee compares abortion restrictions with torture.”

Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Research, said, “No one really believes the Catholic Church tortures women by its teaching on contraception. The committee harms its reputation–and the importance of human rights– by making such suggestions.”

Stefano Gennarini, J.D., Director of Legal Studies, “I have followed UN treaty body reform for years and this is precisely the kind of overreach UN member states are concerned about.”

C-Fam is a New York and Washington DC-based research institute that has worked on UN legal and social policy issues in New York for 16 years. C-Fam holds Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

LinkedInShare

Banning Moral Doctors: Is this where Sexual and Reproductive Rights Leads?

Posted on | April 30, 2014 by Wendy Wright

A British medical authority is disqualifying physicians who object to the morning-after pill – including the version taken 5 days-after — from certain certifications.

This not only penalizes health providers for having a conscience, but also patients who are denied access to any of these ethical providers.

The Telegraph reports:

Doctors and nurses who object to providing controversial emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds are being barred from specialist professional qualifications under official guidelines.

They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as “ineligible” for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme.

It led to accusations that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a branch of the RCOG, is unfairly discriminating against medical staff who act on grounds of conscience.

The bar on qualification applies to medical staff who object to “any form of contraception” including the new generation of morning-after pill which can be taken up to five days after sex.

Some Christian doctors who have no moral objection to traditional contraception nevertheless decline to prescribe the so-called “five day after pill” because it acts after fertilisation.

They believe that emergency contraceptive which takes effect after the moment they argue “life” has begun is similar to abortion.

The exclusion, confirmed in updated guidelines, applies to specialist diplomas in sexual and reproductive health as well as full membership of the faculty.

While the diplomas are viewed as an important qualification for GPs or nurses treating sexually transmitted infections or involved in family planning, full membership is seen as essential for doctors who specialise in the field.

The prohibition is confirmed in the latest version of the guidelines which were amended earlier this year after the qualifications were opened to nurses as well as doctors.

It states that those with moral objections are “welcome” to study the diploma course but adds: “Completing the syllabus means willingness during training to prescribe all forms of hormonal contraception, including emergency, and willingness to counsel and refer, if appropriate, for all intrauterine methods.

“Failure to complete the syllabus renders candidates ineligible for the award of a FSRH Diploma.”

It adds: “Doctors who hold moral or religious reservations about any contraceptive methods will be unable to fulfil the syllabus for the membership … or specialty training.

“This will render them ineligible for the award of the examination or completion of training certificates.”

By contrast, those who refuse to perform abortions on grounds of conscience enjoy special legal protection.

The RCOG insisted that although the new guidelines were recently updated the exclusion was long-standing.

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship said: “It bars pro-life doctors from specialising in sexual and reproductive health and also makes it much more difficult for non specialists to get jobs in family planning or reproductive health.”

He added that while the rules would clearly affect Catholics who adhere to the church’s teaching on contraception, many others would also be impacted.

“If you look at non-Catholic Christians there would be many who may have no objection to contraception and see it as responsible behaviour but who draw the line at prescribing contraceptives which are meant to be taken after fertilisation,” he said.

David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, the Roman Catholic institute in Oxford, said: “By these guidelines the FSRH is seeking deliberately to exclude people who have a conscientious objection to some or all forms of contraception from eligibility for the diploma and from membership of the faculty.

“This is a form of unjust discrimination against professionals on the basis of their personal beliefs and, indirectly, a form of discrimination against patients who share the same beliefs and who may wish to be treated by professionals with a sympathetic understanding of their position.”

LinkedInShare

“One of Us” replies to Planned Parenthood

Posted on | April 30, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.

As we have reported on an earlier post on this blog, the successful European Citizens’ Initiative “ONE OF US” has been subject to highly aggressive criticism by certain “stakeholders” (i.e. the representatives of the abortion industry, who fear that the petition, which requests the EU to stop the funding of abortions in third countries trough its development aid budget might deprive them of a reliable source of revenue, and the representatives of certain research institutes who have similar fears with regard to a possible end of EU funding with regard to their controversial research activities), which has been channeled through certain mass media.

It is quite remarkable that those mass media, including reputed newspapers such as the Guardian or the New York Times, appear to take their information directly from sources like IPPF-EN (the European branch of Planned Parenthood) or the Wellcome Trust, without any attempt at cross-checking, and without offering any comparable possibility to the organizers of the ONE OF US petition to make their voice heard.

The citizens’ committee responsible for the ONE OF US petition has now reacted by issuing a public rebuttal of IPPF-EN’s criticism, which we publish in full length:

 ECI “One of Us”: A response to criticisms by IPPF

LinkedInShare

Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” for the respect of human life: the European Commission must now respect democracy

Posted on | April 29, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D

Grégor Puppinck, Representative of the European Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us”

The European Commission (EU) must decide before May 28 on how it intends to take action concerning the request of the European Citizens’ Initiative “One of Us” to introduce into the European regulatory an ethics clause explicitly excluding European Union funding any activity that destroys or involves the destruction of human life at the embryonic or foetal stage. This applies in particular to the European funding for research involving the destruction of human embryos, and financing abortions in the context of aid to developing countries.

The European Citizens’ Initiative is a mechanism of participatory democracy introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. It enables one million EU citizens to submit a legislative or policy project to European institutions. It is about sharing with citizens, under certain conditions, the power of legislative initiative initially assigned exclusively to the European Commission.

Meeting of the One of Us' Citizens' Initiative Committee with the European Commission - April 9th, 2014 (with Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the EC in charge of Research, Innovation and Science, Marcus Cornaro, Deputy Director General of the EuropAid Development and Cooperation DG of the EC, Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General of DG "Research and Innovation" of the EC)

 

 

One of us has raised nearly two million signatures in a year, making it the largest petition in the history of European institutions. The Commission and the European Parliament have auditioned the representatives of the Initiative on April, 9-10 this year to help the Commission in its decision to initiate a policy or legislative action.

These hearings gave the opportunity to the Initiative representatives to publicly explain their application and reveal the contradictions of European policy in this regard.

This Initiative is based on the scientific fact that every individual life is an uninterrupted continuum from conception to death. It is the public testimony of millions of European citizens’ consciences who recognize humanity and individuality in every human being from conception, and who require from the EU, within the limits of its powers, to respect the life from conception. 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.

This initiative is consistent with the European law which recognizes the human dignity of unborn life. The Commission also recalled on April 9, it is in order to respect this dignity that it refuses to fund the destruction of embryos under its policy research and to fund or promote abortion.

Similarly, the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case Brüstle against Greenpeace (2011) stated that the human embryo exists from conception and it is endowed with human dignity, and concluded that we can’t benefit from its destruction.

However, despite this recognition of the humanity and dignity of unborn life, the EU finances biotechnological practices involving the destruction of embryos. It also funds abortion in developing countries, including where it is forbidden, through organizations such as IPPF and MSI. (See the European Dignity Watch’s 2012 report The Funding of Abortion through EU Development Aid).

In terms of principles, the Commission is faced with a double contradiction. It finances practices that European law judges contrary to human dignity, and supports, as actively as discreetly, policies of abortions in poor countries, in the name of a concept of development based on population control. The One of Us Initiative is a call to the EU to be consistent in its professed respect for human dignity.

It is these practices that the two million signatures of “One of Us” ask to stop.

This request is further justified in practice, because research on embryonic stem cells is surpassed by the induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) discovered by Prof. Yamanaka, Nobel Prize in 2012. As a result, the private investments in embryonic stem cells research are collapsing (see for example the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s Report, Maryland Joins the Trend for Ethical Stem Cell Research, October 2013).

Regarding abortion, its legalisation and promotion does not improve maternal health. On the contrary, even in industrialized countries, it is a causeof maternal mortality. Abortions, whether legal or not, in addition of killing a human being, carry serious physical and psychological health risks and contribute to maternal mortality. Countries that restrict abortion have lower maternal mortality rates than those who facilitate the access. In Europe, Polandand Irelandhave the lowest rates of maternal mortality. In Latin America, Chilehas a maternal death rate that is 30 times lower than in Guyanawhere abortion has been allowed without restriction since 1995. Similarly Nepal, which places no restriction on abortion, has the highest maternal mortality rate in Southeast Asia, while Sri Lanka, whose maternal death rate is 14 times lower than that of Nepal, has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. After Chile banned abortion in 1989, its maternal mortality ratio declined significantly (see E. Koch et al. (2012) Women’s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: A Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007).

The vast majority of maternal deaths are due to a lack of basic health care. Although sometimes it is necessary to deliver a baby early to save the life of a mother, resulting in the premature birth of a baby that may not survive, it is never necessary to deliberately kill a baby to save the life of a mother. Most maternal deaths can be prevented with adequate nutrition, skilled birth attendants and basic care before, during and after childbirth. The effort to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity should not use limited resources to legalize, promote or expand access to abortion.

Initiative “One of Us” also places the European Commission before a democratic challenge: respecting participatory democracy by sharing the power of initiative.

The Initiative mechanism aims to make EU citizens’ participate to democracy, and to strengthen its democratic legitimacy. It is vital for the credibility of the European institutions that the expectations for this instrument are not disappointed.

The One of Us legislative proposal in terms of both form and content has already been validated by the European Commission. No practical obstacle or background can justify a refusal of the Commission to include this proposal in the European legislative process.

Indeed, it is no longer to the Commission to assess the political expediency of a Citizen Initiative since it is demonstrated by its popular support. It is only to the Commission to consider the success of the initiative and to submit it to the next Parliament and Council in charge of the legislative powers in the EU. It is for them to discuss and vote on the request for One of Us.

A refusal by the Commission would be arbitrary and would ruin the credibility of the citizen initiative mechanism, and it would further weaken the democratic legitimacy of the European institutions.

Conversely, if the Commission respects the spirit of the Treaty and forward the Initiative to the Parliament and the Council, it will be a real step forward for European democracy and an opportunity for Europe to become more aware of the humanity of all human life from conception, and of the respect it deserves. An essential double progress.

 

 

One of Us Initiative - Public Hearing at the EU Parliament

One of Us Initiative - Public Hearing at the EU Parliament - April 10th, 2014

LinkedInShare

Stockholm Parliamentarians’ Meeting Follows Standard UNFPA Script

Posted on | April 28, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D

From April 23-25, a meeting was held in Stockholm, Sweden as part of the 20-year review of the Cairo Programme of Action.

Co-hosted by UNFPA, the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development*, and the Swedish Parliament, the “6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action” concluded with the publication of the “Stockholm Statement of Commitment” and a “Declaration on Human Rights.”

The actual contents of the “Stockholm Commitment” follows the usual template seen at Bali and The Hague – both of which are conveniently referenced within it – see point 7 below.  Essentially, it’s nothing novel for the UNFPA and entirely too novel for the UN proper.  Among the things it includes that are outside the realm of agreed UN language are the (repeated) phrase “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” “comprehensive sexuality education” for youth “at all levels,” and references to sexual orientation and gender identity – which were the entire focus of the accompanying “Declaration on Human Rights” (PDF).

On the one hand, there’s not much new to see here.  On the other, there’s now yet another document floating around in search of resolutions to refer to it, which means one more thing UN delegates need to be aware of – the better to ignore it later.

The template followed by the Stockholm meeting has become very familiar to those following the ICPD beyond 2014 process:

1) UNFPA coordinates with co-sponsors to fund and arrange the meeting.

2) A group of of people are invited. They may be youth activists, parliamentarians, human rights experts, or whatever other demographic is the focus of the meeting.  Attendees are selected because they are a) already on board with the agenda UNFPA wishes to advance, or b) are considered to be potential recruits to the cause.

3) The meeting takes place over the course of a few days, during which like-minded people have the opportunity to network and form stronger coalitions and plan strategy.  Meanwhile, potential recruits are inundated with advocacy messages and social peer pressure.  Anyone not in agreement would find himself or herself in a definite minority.

4) A statement/declaration/commitment is issued at the conclusion of the meeting.  Generally, this is a summary document representing the views of the organizers, and is not a negotiated text, particularly as they are not binding and the attendees are not able to commit to anything on behalf of their entire governments anyway.  These outcome documents are generally packed full of references to other similar documents advancing the same position.

5) Attendees are encouraged to join their countries’ respective delegations to the UN for special events like ECOSOC commissions (like the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Population and Development, etc.)  They are encouraged to work from the talking points of the meeting in generating their statements and forming their negotiation positions.

6) Efforts are made to include references to the meeting’s outcome text in official UN statements.  This is important, because the practical value of the meeting document is effectively zero plus whatever attention it receives in more meaningful places.

7) Part of the reason these UNFPA-sponsored outcome documents typically reference each other is so that if any of them gets referenced in a UN resolution or the negotiated text of a commission, the references it contains are, by extension, given a higher platform.  It’s a bit like nesting dolls.

* This organization was a notable proponent of the infamous Estrela Report, ultimately rejected in the European Parliament.

LinkedInShare

“ONE OF US” Initiative: the EU’s political caste is not used to democracy

Posted on | April 28, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.

Two weeks after the organizers of the European Citizens’ Initiative ONE OF US presented their petition in a hearing at the European Parliament all the expectations are now directed at the European Commission. The EU’s executive body has until 28 May to issue a communication in which it will announce the steps it intends to take to follow up on the successful initiative.
The margin of appreciation for this decision is somewhat uncertain. The relevant legal provision is Article 10 of Regulation (EU) 211/2011 on the citizens’ initiative, which provides as follows:

Article 10
Procedure for the examination of a citizens’ initiative by the Commission

1. Where the Commission receives a citizens’ initiative in accordance with Article 9 it shall:
(a) publish the citizens’ initiative without delay in the register;
(b) receive the organisers at an appropriate level to allow them to explain in detail the matters raised by the citizens’ initiative;
(c) within three months, set out in a communication its legal and political conclusions on the citizens’ initiative, the action it intends to take, if any, and its reasons for taking or not taking that action.

On a superficial reading, this wording suggests that the Commission is completely free to decide whether or not it intends any action, and that the only obligation for it is to duly justify that decision.
Under a political perspective, however, any other decision than to formally launch a legislative procedure on the basis of the proposal that was submitted by the ONE OF US petition and endorsed by the validated signatures of more than 1.7 million citizens would be a disaster for the EU’s democratic credibility: who would bother to collect 1 million signatures for a citizen’s initiative if that initiative can be blocked by a simple decision of an unelected bureaucracy? The conclusion that one would have to be drawn is that the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in order to even out the EU’s notorious “democracy deficit”, is in fact an empty shell: to get a legislative procedure going, it is necessary to pick up the phone and give a call to the right people in the right department of the EU bureaucracy – but not to collect signatures from the people out there…

In other words, a failure to provide for an appropriate follow-up for ONE OF US would not only jeopardize this particular petition, but the institution of the ECI as a whole. The idea of participatory democracy in the EU would be dead only two years after it was born.
Already the Commission’s reaction with regard to “Right2water“, the first ECI that successfully gathered more than 1 million signatures, has raised some criticism. However, the Commission did not do nothing: for example, it exempted drinking water from the scope of the new EU Directive on Concessions – a somewhat stupid and populist move, but apparently in keeping with the initiative’s programmatic outlook. The Commission’s failure to propose new legislation that would define access to drinking water as a human right is simply due to the fact that it has no competence to propose new human rights – and its true failure apparently was to not have explained this to the organizers at the time when the “Right2water” initiative was registered.

In the case of ONE OF US, however, the situation is very different. The initiative includes a full-fledged legislative proposal that was submitted to, and duly examined by, the Commission at the time when the initiative was registered – and there is not the slightest trace of any doubt that this proposal might fall outside the EU’s competences. The Commission therefore has no legal arguments that would allow it to say that it cannot launch a legislative procedure on the basis of that proposal; a failure to do so would simply mean that the Commission politically disagrees with the proposal and therefore decides to block it before it can be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU’s two legislative bodies. But that would turn the ECI into a patent absurdity – it would in fact mean that citizens should not launch any petitions for which they do not have the Commission’s political support. But that would then raise the question: what is the point of it all? If I have the Commission’s support for the legislation I want to propose, why would I bother to waste time and money with collecting signatures?

What is at stake here is thus not merely the fate of the ONE OF US initiative, but the deontology of citizens’ initiatives in general. A Commission decision to provide no follow-up for ONE OF US would be deontologically wrong.

However, bad habits can be very persistent. That is not only true with regard to the European Commission, but with many political players in Brussels who are currently trying their best to shoot down the successful ECI before it becomes the object of a proper legislative procedure. The brazen attempts of certain MEPs to turn the hearing on ONE OF US into an event in which representatives of the EU institutions would have been allotted two thirds of the speaking time in order to lecture the representatives of the citizens’ committee about their opinions on the subject matter of the petition are still in fresh memory. Even more absurdly, one MEP, Mr. Michael Cashman, even suggested that equal speaking time – and equal consideration – should have been given to representatives of the abortion and genetic-manipulation industry, just as if they, and not ONE OF US, had been endorsed by nearly 2 million citizens!

These absurdities have given but a foretaste of things to come. New attacks are being launched, in particular in the form of letters and public statements through which the abortion industry and its strategic allies seek to put pressure on the Commission to reject the ONE OF US petition. While the lobbies from which these interventions emanate pretend that these attacks are directed against ONE OF US alone, it is in fact democracy and transparency that they are attacking.
The arguments on which those attacks are based are as ridiculous as they are revelatory of the abortion lobby’s hypocrisy and double standards, as well as of a fundamental disdain for democratic procedures.

For example, one of the main arguments that the abortion lobby uses against the ONE OF US petition is the allegation that the petition was launched by “religious” or “ultra-conservative” groups, who are lavishly funded by “US based foundations”. This does not only not correspond to reality, but it betrays a problematic stance with regard to democracy, the implicit suggestion being that groups or persons not sharing the abortion lobby’s ideological orientations should be excluded from participating in the political process. But in the end such arguments fall back upon those who use them: no only can groups such as IPPF or the Center for Reproductive Rights themselves with good reasons be described as “extremist” – but in fact those groups do not have any memberships, do not have a valid claim to represent anyone, and have never collected two million citizens’ signatures for any of their positions, – but in fact they are themselves based in the US and completely dependent on the funds they receive from US-based foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Packard Foundation, or George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. In other words, to those who know the abortion lobby is just once more exhibiting an amount of hypocrisy that makes Moliere(s Tartuffe look like a shining example of sincerity.

But even worse than the abortion lobby, of which nobody has ever expected that it knows the rules of fair play, is the way in which the government of one EU Member State has documented its utter disrespect, if not ignorance, of democratic rules.

This Member State is the United Kingdom. As the website EurActiv reports, the British government has issued a confidential briefing note to “EU lawmakers” in which it intimates that the ONE OF US petition should be rejected. It is not clear from the report to whom this note was addressed – but there is every reason to believe that the addressee is the European Commission and that the UK government is pressuring the Commission to abort the citizens’ initiative before it takes on the form of a formal legislative procedure. In other words, it appears as if the UK government wanted the Commission to abuse its executive powers.

It is of course no surprise that the UK should oppose ONE OF US. After all, Britain is the Member State that is likely to draw the greatest benefits from the current legal situation, given that it has the lowest ethical standards in the entire EU with regard to both abortion and stem-cell research. Britain is not only the country that recently made headlines with the creative use of aborted embryos (not only as a raw material for research, but even as … solid fuel to heat public buildings!), but it also is the only country in the world where the creation in vitro of man-animal-”chimaeras” (i.e. of “mixed” creatures with human and animal genes) is legal. This is precisely one of the examples of research projects that, being legal in only one of 28 Member States could nevertheless be funded under the rules of the EU’s framework research programme “Horizon 2020″. Don’t be mislead: if the Commission says that such research projects haven’t been funded under the EU framework in the past, this doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be funded in the future if the “ethical standards” remain the same as they are now.

In the EU, it pays off to be the country with the lowest ethical standards – and the UK is that country. Being blind for ethical implications makes a country attractive for investment – not only in the financial services sector (where the UK has for many yearst fiercely opposed all attempts to impose some minimum regulation that would have prevented the abuses that have led to the current financial crisis), but also in the area of bio-genetic research, where Britain is very eager to establish itself as a “world leader”. This is why the UK is opposing ONE OF US.

But the British government’s briefing note, besides confirming the country’s interest in keeping ethical standards as low as possible, also reveals a glaring lack of understanding for democratic principles. Rather than asking the Commission, which is a purely executive body, to misuse its power in order to block Europe’s biggest citizens’ initiative so far, the UK should wait for the initiative to be discussed (as a result of the Commission’s launching a legislative procedure on the basis of the ONE OF US petition) in Council: this, and this alone, would be the appropriate place for the British government to raise its voice and vote against the proposal. But apparently the UK, for fear of being outvoted, does not want the initiative to advance that far… in a certain sense, this case is quite illustrative for one of the main reasons why citizens are so sceptical about the EU.
Of course, this raises also some further questions. For example, it might be asked whether, if the Commission did – albeit unwillingly – launch a formal legislative procedure on the basis of the successful ONE OF US proposal as a response to the successful ECI, the question arises whether the Commission is itself best placed to promote that legislative proposal throughout the procedure in the Parliament and the Council. It is hardly likely that a legislative proposal can be successfully defended if those tasked to defend it are themselves not convinced. In actual fact therefore, the representatives of the successful citizen’s initiative should be given equal standing to that of the Commission, or even replace the Commission, for the purposes of the legislative procedure – otherwise the ECI is destined to remain an empty promise.

Arguably, one might even go further. If the EU is really willing to become more democratic, it should

• abolish the existing restrictions with regard to the possible content of an ECI, and thus allow citizens to make proposals that would involve modifications of the EU’s primary law (i.e., the Treaties, or the Fundamental Rights Charter), and

• modify the rules governing the ECI in the sense that a successful ECI must compulsorily be made the subject of a binding Europe-wide referendum.

In this way, it would for the first time become possible for EU citizens to have a real say on European affairs, i.e., to change EU law despite the obstruction of the EU bureaucracy. This is the procedure that makes Switzerland  the most successful democratic system in the world – both politically and democratically.

But for the EU, this would probably be asking too much. If the tug-o’-war around ONE OF US evidences one thing, it is that we are governed by a political caste that wants to be left alone by real citizens.

LinkedInShare

Abortion for Rape Victims in Conflict Situations: Does it Help Victims or Abortion Groups?

Posted on | April 25, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

Countries from Europe are now openly pushing for abortion as a right under the Geneva convention for victims of rape in situations of conflict.

Are they listening to the victims of rape or are they just caving to the incessant clamor for abortion from abortion groups? Humanitarian groups, for their part, are not pushing for abortion as a necessary measure in situations of war. It is abortion activists and politicians that promote abortion who want abortion to be recognized as a right under the Geneva convention.

Is this about helping victims of rape or is it about helping the bottom line of abortion groups?

The latest report of the Secretary General seems to have toned down the push for abortion in situations of war.

8. Similarly, the issues of pregnancy as a result of sexual violence and of the plight of children born of rape require further research and information as a basis for response (emphasis added). In situations where conflict-related sexual violence takes the form of campaigns of forced pregnancy, and where abortion services are illegal, unsafe abortion practices may put the lives of survivors at greater risk.

Last year, the Secretary General actually called for abortion as a remedy for rape victims in situations of war. This year he backtracked to the oft cited truism that illegal abortions are unsafe. To be more truthful he should have noted that in conflict situations, where health infrastructure is likely to be inexistent and essential medicines are difficult to access, both legal and illegal abortions are unsafe, and injure women or even result in their death.

Notably, the report recognizes that more research is required to determine the right response. A 2011 UN report detailing what survivors of rape have requested did not mention sexual and reproductive health services, and certainly not abortion. Victims of rape who became pregnant  as result of the violence never said they would have preferred that their children had not been born. In fact, women expressed a need for health, education, acceptance and other services for both themselves and their children conceived in rape.

A UK declaration that has garnered support from over 140 countries in the past year appears to be a step in the right direction. It ignores entirely the claims of abortion groups that abortion as a right under the Geneva Convention.

LinkedInShare

Child Sacrifice for Health and Wealth

Posted on | April 23, 2014 by Wendy Wright

Uganda will host a conference this fall to create a plan to combat child sacrifice. Attacks have risen recently as the country’s economy is booming. People are hiring experienced [witch] doctors to kill children, believing it will bring health and wealth.

Sound familiar? It’s terribly close to the claim that abortion will improve women’s health and prospects for the future.

Here’s a BBC article on the horrific practice:

Where child sacrifice is a business

By Chris Rogers BBC News, Kampala

A BBC undercover reporter is told: “We can bury the child alive on your construction site”

The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda’s capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.

Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country’s economy.

Stephen’s decapitated body was found in a field
The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

‘Sacrifice business’
Many believe that members of the country’s new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth.

At the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries church, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga is teaching local children a song called Heal Our Land, End Child Sacrifice.

To hear dozens of young voices singing such shocking words epitomises how ritual murder has become part of everyday life here.

“Child sacrifice has risen because people have become lovers of money. They want to get richer,” the pastor says.

“They have a belief that when you sacrifice a child you get wealth, and there are people who are willing to buy these children for a price. So they have become a commodity of exchange, child sacrifice has become a commercial business.”

The pastor and his parishioners are lobbying the government to regulate witch doctors and improve police resources to investigate these crimes.

Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

Sometimes, they accuse us of these things because we make no arrests, but we are limited.”

Commissioner Bignoa Moses Anti-Human Sacrifice Task Force
According to official police figures, there was one case of child sacrifice in 2006; in 2008 the police say they investigated 25 alleged ritual murders, and in 2009, another 29.

The Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, launched in response to the growing numbers, says the ritual murder rate has slowed, citing a figure of 38 cases since 2006.

Pastor Sewakiryanga disputes the police numbers, and says there are more victims from his parish than official statistics for the entire country.

The work of the police task force has been strongly criticised by the UK-based charity, Jubilee Campaign.

It says in a report that the true number of cases is in the hundreds, and claims more than 900 cases have yet to be investigated by the police because of corruption and a lack of resources.

‘Quiet money’
Allan was left for dead after a vicious attack
Tepenensi led me to a field near her home where she found the body of her six-year-old grandson Stephen, dumped in the reeds. She trembled as she pointed out the spot where she found his decapitated body; he had been missing for 24 hours.

Clutching the only photo she has of her grandson, Tepenensi sobbed as she explained that although the local witch doctor had admitted to sacrificing Stephen, the police were reluctant to pursue the case.

“They offered me money to keep quiet,” she says. “I refused the offer.”

No-one from the Ugandan government agreed to do an interview. The police deny inaction and corruption.

The head of the Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, Commissioner Bignoa Moses, says the police are doing all they can to tackle the problem.

“Sometimes, they accuse us of these things because we make no arrests, but we are limited. If we get information that someone is involved in criminal activities like human sacrifice, we shall go and investigate, and if it can be proven we will take him to court, but sometimes the cases are not proven.”

Boy castrated
At Kampala main hospital, consultant neurosurgeon Michael Muhumuza shows me the X-rays of the horrific injuries suffered by nine-year-old Allan.

They reveal missing bone from his skull and damage to a part of his brain after a machete sliced through Allan’s head and neck in an attempt to behead him; he was castrated by the witch doctor. It was a month before Allan woke from a coma after being dumped near his village home.

Allan was able to identify his attackers, including a man called Awali. But the police say Allan’s eyewitness account is unreliable.

Some children are cut to collect blood for rituals
Local people told us that Awali continues to be involved with child sacrifice.

For our own inquiries, we posed as local businessmen and asked around for a witch doctor that could bring prosperity to our local construction company. We were soon introduced to Awali. He led us into a courtyard behind his home, and as if to welcome us he and his helpers wrestled a goat to the ground and slit its throat.

“This animal has been sacrificed to bring luck to us all,” Awali explained. He then demanded a fee of $390 (£250) for the ritual and asked us to return in a few days.

At our next meeting, Awali invited us into his shrine, which is traditionally built from mud bricks with a straw roof. Inside, the floor is littered with herbs, face masks, rattles and a machete.

The witch doctor explained that this meeting was to discuss the most powerful spell – the sacrifice of a child.

“There are two ways of doing this,” he said. “We can bury the child alive on your construction site, or we cut them in different places and put their blood in a bottle of spiritual medicine.”

Awali grabbed his throat. “If it’s a male, the whole head is cut off and his genitals. We will dig a hole at your construction site, and also bury the feet and the hands and put them all together in the hole.”

The attacks have created a climate of fear
Awali boasted he had sacrificed children many times before and knew what he was doing. After this meeting, we withdrew from the negotiations.

We handed our notes to the police. Awali is still a free man.

‘No voice’
Allan’s father, Semwanga, has sold his home to pay for Allan’s medical treatment, and moved to the slums near the capital.

Sitting on the steps of their makeshift house, built from corrugated sheets of metal, I showed the footage of our meeting with the witch doctor to Allan on my laptop. He pointed to the screen and shouted “Awali!” confirming he is the man who attacked him.

Pastor Sewakiryanga says without the full force of the law, there is little that can be done to protect Uganda’s children from the belief in the power of human sacrifice.

“The children do not have voices, their voices have been silenced by the law and the police not acting, and the people who read the newspapers do nothing, so we have to make a stand and do whatever it takes to stamp out this evil, we can only pray that the government will listen.”

LinkedInShare

Presentation of the European Initiative “One of Us” at the European Parliament

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

Why?

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.

LinkedInShare
« go backkeep looking »

About

Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

Search

RSS Feed

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Recent Articles

  • Categories

  • Authors