Friday, 6 February 2015

Canada’s top court rules doctors can help kill patients; overturns assisted suicide law

John-Henry Westen (pictured, the editor of LifeSite news, has just issued the following statement. It contains news of a truly shocking development in Canada which has, as he puts it, "significant international ramifications":
In a decision that has significant international ramifications, Canada's Supreme Court today legalized assisted suicide. This heart-breaking decision will not only affect our Canadian readers, but will inevitably set an unofficial precedent for courts in the U.S. and elsewhere. Our readers in those countries need to be aware of this decision, in order to be better prepared to oppose this encroaching element of the Culture of Death. Read our breaking news report on the decision here, or below.
On a practical note for supporters in Britain, there is growing pressure on Parliament to make time for Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying bill, after the general election, so that it becomes a law. We must strenuously oppose any such move.It is essential that we elect people to Parliament who will vote to spare the elderly and the vulnerable from the threat of being killed by assisted suicide. Please contact me to find out how you can help SPUC's general election campaign.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Cloning regulations: UK "are the pioneers of abuses of unborn children"

Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary
SPUC has issued the following statement today on the House of Commons debate today on cloning regulations:

SPUC is calling on MPs to reject the so-called "three-parent" embryo regulations designed to allow the cloning of embryos. The regulations would permit human germ-line manipulation for the first time.

The Society is appealing to MPs to oppose the regulations being debated in the House of Commons today which would allow cloned human embryos to be created and implanted in a woman.

Commenting on the background to today's debate, Paul Tully (pictured, above), General Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said:
"The 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was not intended to permit human cloning, and so the alteration of germ-line genetic material was forbidden.

"However, the proponents of the 1990 Act held out promises of cures and medical advances for children with inherited diseases if they were allowed to use some embryos as guinea-pigs. These benefits failed to materialise.
"In 2001 Parliament was asked to amend the embryology law to allow limited genetic manipulation and the wider use of embryos as guinea-pigs. On that occasion MPs were again misled with false claims about how regenerative medicine could not advance without cannibalising embryos for their embryonic stem cells (ESCs). As we in SPUC predicted at the time, this technique also failed, because embryo stem cells were carcinogenic. Ethical techniques using stem-cells from adults have proved successful.
"In 2008, wider amendments to the 1990 Act were put forward to pave the way for human cloning, and mitochondrial disease was for the first time the centre of concerns.

"The creation of cloning entails destroying some embryos in an attempt to create others. It discriminates against those with undesired genetic traits.

"It sets a precedent for wider cloning of human beings, not in a sinister dictatorship or science fiction world, but here in the UK. We are the pioneers of abuses of unborn children like legalised abortion, IVF and genetic screening, and we are in danger of losing all feeling for the victims of such medicalised exploitation.

"MPs have been consistently misled in the past about the prospects of success and the future intentions of those who want to use the tiniest humans - human embryos - for experiments. They should reject today's proposals," concluded Mr Tully.

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Scandalous omissions, ambiguities and confusion in Family Synod final report must be redressed

Matthew McCusker of
SPUC and Voice of the Family
Three members of SPUC's staff attended the Pontifical Council for the Family (PCF) conference on the Family Synod last month.

They were also representing Voice of the Family, an initiative of Catholic laity from 23 major pro-life/pro-family organisations worldwide, co-founded and funded by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Last week Voice of the Family issued a statement criticising Cardinal Baldiserri, the organizer of the Synod on the Family, for further undermining Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Now in an new development, Voice of the Family has submitted proposals, (drafted by Matthew McCusker, pictured above) to the Pontifical Council for the Family's Family Synod consultation - proposals which strongly criticise the final report of the Extraordinary Synod for failing to refer to more than "one billion unborn human lives", at a conservative estimate, killed by abortion "since the proliferation of permissive abortion legislation around the world".

Voice of the Family's submission states:
Abortion is the gravest attack on the family because it attacks the relationship between a mother and father and their child. The profound love that should exist between parent and child is instead replaced by betrayal and death.

There was no reference to this deliberate killing in the final relatio of the Extraordinary Synod. Nor was there any mention of the destruction of human life caused by in vitro fertilisation or abortifacient forms of contraception.

It is perhaps even more scandalous that the only indirect mention of abortion was a reference to a “decline in population” partly due to “a mentality against having children promoted by the world politics of reproductive health” (No. 10) Here cardinals and bishops adopt the euphemism of the pro-abortion lobby and do nothing to explain what “reproductive health” really involves, namely, the killing of unborn children or the prevention of their conception.

The Ordinary Synod needs to face the reality of abortion – to call things by their proper name – and to call all Catholics and people of good will to combat the greatest violation of human rights in human history.

As well as destroying innocent life abortion wounds all other members of the family. Families marked by abortion are truly ‘wounded families.’ Pastoral care for these families, based on the truth about abortion, needs proposing with urgency
(my emphasis).
Voice of the Family is equally strong in its criticism of omissions and ambiguities in the Extraordinary Synod final report's treatment of marriage, contraception, euthanasia and assisted suicide, natural law, homosexuality, gender theory, sex education and parents as primary educators, and calls for clear, unambiguous teaching on these issues.

The Voice of the Family submission concludes:
Concern is growing across the Catholic world. Parents fear that their children will grow up in a world where they will have to endure suffering and persecution if they strive to live according to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Church. This problem must be dealt with by the Ordinary Synod.
Matthew McCusker, SPUC and Voice of the Family researcher and writer, comments; "The scandalous omissions, ambiguities and confusion which characterise the final report of the Extraordinary Synod must be fully redressed in the Ordinary Synod later this year. Concerned laypeople wishing to help through prayer and action should contact"

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Monday, 2 February 2015

Snail embryos learn from experiences in the egg – just as unborn children learn in the womb

A remarkable piece of research provides evidence of the ability of a snail embryo to learn information that will be used in later life. The ability of snail embryos has parallels in human development, the research points out.

The researchers, from three UK universities, published their report before Christmas in the journal Freshwater Biology. It showed that snails exposed to the smell of predators during the embryonic development stage were better able to avoid those predators after the snails had hatched. They did this both by developing shells that were more protective and by crawling out of dangerous waters.

The question of whether or not to leave the water is an important one for a snail, as it may save it from a predator but carries the risk of desiccation, so getting it right may be literally a matter of life or death. Lead author of the report, Dr Sarah Dalesman of the University of Aberystwyth, expressed surprise at just how well the embryonic snails were able to learn, concluding that this ability might be extremely important in improving the survival chances of the young snails after hatching.

The report also found that embryonic snails that were exposed to a predator smell hatched out smaller, on average, than others that were kept in predator-free conditions. As the report itself notes, this mirrors the effects of stress in the development of mammals, including humans, where foetuses of stressed mothers typically have lower birth weights than others.

One of the key conclusions drawn by the authors is that “embryonic experience may therefore be extremely important in allowing populations to persist”. The opening words of the report, presenting a summary of the key findings, similarly comment that the biology in the very early life stages may – in terms of influencing the dynamics and survival of the population – be as important as, or even more important than, later stages.

So much for snails. What do we know about the ability of unborn humans to learn?

Plenty of studies have demonstrated that memories can be set down before birth, and that these can influence behaviour after birth. One such study (reported in The Independent and Daily Telegraph on 4 April 1995) was carried out by Dr Peter Hepper, then professor of psychology at Queen’s University in Belfast. Dr Hepper was no pro-life advocate, as he was suggesting that his studies could help mothers to make a choice as to whether or not to abort children with Down’s syndrome. His report, though, found that:

  • an unborn child can start to learn and remember during the second trimester of the mother’s pregnancy, so between 4 and 6 months;
  • from 24 weeks, unborn babies can recognise and remember sounds, and distinguish between those that are important to them and those that are not;
  • the unborn baby can recognise his or her mother’s voice from around 30 weeks.

A second report of Dr Hepper’s, this time reported in The Lancet on 11 June 1998, found that babies stopped crying and became more alert when played the theme tune from the Australian soap Neighbours if their mothers had watched the programme during pregnancy.

Two other researchers, from Keele University, found that unborn children could lay down musical memories from the 30th week of pregnancy, and possibly as early as the 20th week, before the cerebral cortex is fully functional .

In 2013, the University of Washington reported that unborn babies start to learn language and, within just hours of birth, can differentiate between sounds from languages to which they have been exposed in the womb and the sounds of other languages .

Moving from sound to smell, a French report, published in 2001, showed that the babies of mothers who ate anise during pregnancy were attracted to the odour after birth, whereas other young babies were either neutral or repelled by the smell .

If snails can learn life-saving skills at the embryonic state, it is hardly surprising that young humans can also start to learn matters of importance before birth. Any internet search will quickly demonstrate a wealth of evidence that the unborn baby can learn – whether speech, music, other sounds, or smell. These studies collectively demonstrate yet again the scientific fact that human development is a continuous process that starts at conception.

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