Sunday, March 29, 2015

Doctors should 'always care, never kill'

Brittany Maynard was the 29-year-old woman who chose assisted suicide in Oregon rather than suffer a slow decline because of a brain tumour.

Before her death she made two videos which went viral on YouTube. Not surprising, says the bioethics group BioEdge, as a professional story-telling consultant was employed as part of a multi-platform media campaign directed by a public relations firm on behalf of the assisted suicide group Compassion and Choices.

BioEdge quotes Ryan T. Anderson, of the Heritage Foundation:

"Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for four reasons. First, it would endanger the weak and vulnerable. Second, it would corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship. Third, it would compromise the family and intergenerational commitments. And fourth, it would betray human dignity and equality before the law. . .

"Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill."

Here is a video by Maggie Karner, a woman with exactly the same complaint as Brittany Maynard, pleading with her not to take her life, but live. It is worth watching. You can see it here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Deciding what's important

I have the idea there's going to be a General Election shortly. Politicians are going at it hammer and tongs on television, and people are being canvassed for their opinions on this, that and the other. I expect candidates will be knocking at my front door shortly.

They say the most important matter is the NHS, and after that, the economy. They are not the only things that are important.

David Cameron's Government, in redefining marriage as it has stood for centuries, has done the nation a grave disservice.

Eric Teetsel, director of the Manhattan Declaration ("A Christian manifesto in support of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty"), puts it well: "As a Christian, I believe homosexual sex is one of the many forms of sexual activity God prohibits. Biblical norms are not arbitrary, but are based on God's design for human flourishing. Sin isn't just bad. It is harmful. Conversely, a life aligned with biblical principles will be prosperous.

"From this perspective, a person in a same-sex relationship is committing self-harm. Love for my neighbour compels me to fight against that harm, and to point the way towards life more abundant.

"The same applies to public policy. When our laws conform to biblical principles of justice and morality, we can expect society to thrive. When they don't, we can expect the opposite. Although you certainly don't have to be a Bible believer to understand marriage, basing public policy on a lie that contradicts God's design is a bad idea, and destined to fail catastrophically."

Marriage breakdown is causing social upheaval. Almost half of teenagers are not living with both natural parents.The results of family breakdown are costing £47 billion a year.

John Smeaton has worked for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children for 40 years, latterly as chief executive. He says evidence shows that marriage as an institution is fatally wounded by redefining it to include same-sex couples. "Those who suffer as a result are, above all, children. We are sacrificing children on the altar of adults' 'sexual rights.'

"Pro-life movements worldwide must work tirelessly to defend marriage and the family. The pro-lfe movement cannot possibly succeed in its efforts to end abortion if the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, is destroyed."

So here are the questions I am preparing for election candidates: "Before I vote, can you tell me if you support the appointment of a families' champion at Cabinet level? What view do you take of same-sex marriage? And" - for good measure - "where do you stand on abortion?"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Martyr's mother: I'm glad he kept the faith

You may have read about it. Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach in Libya. Christians find it difficult to find employment in Egypt. These had gone abroad to find work.

The mother of one of the martyrs, Milad Makeen Zaky, says she is grateful her son stayed faithful to his Christian faith to the end. "From his childhood, he was going to Sunday school, reading the holy Bible, attending the prayer meetings in the church continuously. We thank God he kept the faith."

There is one thing that is difficult to understand. Prime Minister David Cameron says Islam is "a religion of peace" and Islamic State fighters are "not Muslims," but monsters. UK immigration minister James Brokenshire says terrorism and extremism "have nothing to do with Islam." French president Francois Hollande is quoted as saying that the Charlie Hebdo murderers "have nothing to do with the Muslim faith."

The point is that they are Muslims. And they do what they do precisely because of their Muslim faith. Why do politicians say things that surely they themselves don't believe?

Can it be because they find it more convenient to do so?

While we're on the subject, do watch the video of a 10-year-old Christian Iraqi girl in a refugee camp in Erbil who was forced to flee her home in Qaraquosh when Islamic State militants took over. She tells how she forgives them. It is reported to have reduced her interviewer to tears. You can see it here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yells, jeers - and tears

A pro-life counsellor tells why she does what she does.

She was helping others look after an open-air pro-life display. Three young women decided to sit nearby and started yelling and making fun of hem. One of them shouted "Hey, I wanna talk to you, anti-abortion person."

She went over. The woman couldn't put her words together, stringing together question after question. "OK," she said, "just tell me why you're here. Like why do you hate abortion?"

As the woman grew more and more upset, the counsellor could tell the woman had had a personal experience with abortion. "Well," the woman said, "I think women should be able to kill it if they don't want it."

"So you think it's human then, and you recognise abortion is killing something?"

"No, it's just blood. Seriously, I know. I had an abortion." She grabbed her phone and held it to the counsellor's face. "See, it's just blood."

She had taken a photo of her own aborted baby. The baby was 15 weeks old. She turned to another photo. "Actually, you can see a leg and a foot in this one." You could, too.

The counsellor began to cry. She apologised to the woman, and said she couldn't help it. The woman's eyes welled up with tears too.
The counsellor gave the woman her telephone number and the address of a pregnancy counselling centre she could  contact for help when she was ready.
"I am confident that she will seek post-abortion healing," said the counsellor. "I trust God will take care of her. I will pray for her every day, as I know she is grieving.

"This is why I do what I do."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Child sex exploitation: We're to blame too

Realisation is beginning to sink in.

When the news broke about the sexual exploitation of young girls, vast numbers of them, by Asian gangs in Rochdale, in Rotherham, in Oxfordshire, it was a matter of finding someone to blame. It was the Muslim culture. It was the police, who hadn't done their job. It was social services, who didn't care.

There was criminal activity. Of that there is no doubt. The police had failed to take action, as a result of decisions by senior police officers. Social workers had chosen to ignore the situation, for whatever reason.  But it's now admitted that society was to blame too in making it possible. Society. That's you and me.

We said yes to easy divorce. We pretended cohabitation was as good as marriage, when all the evidence was to the contrary.

There was never enough sex education. We insisted  - and still insist - on explicit sex education to younger and younger children. We failed to prevent access to pornography. We provided free contraception and the morning-after pill for children long before they were old enough to consent to sex. When children became pregnant, we provided free abortion, and counsellors to see them through the abortion process so their parents wouldn't have to know.

We are reaping what we have sown. We have scorned Christian principles and gone for the opinions of secular humanists who pretend to be experts.

It's too late to undo the damage that has been done. But it's not too late to start again - with principles that work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A remarkable change of opinion

Fiona Bruce, a former lawyer, entered the House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 2010. She is pro-life. In November last year she proposed abortion law should be clarified to make it clear that abortion purely on the ground of the child's sex is illegal.

The Abortion Act did not specify this, because scans to determine sex were not available when the law was passed. The Government insisted that sex-selective abortions were illegal, but the British Medical Association and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said such abortions were sometimes justified. Sex-selective abortions were happening.

Ms Bruce's bill was passed by 181 votes to 1. Quite a majority. The BBC said it was unlikely to become law because of a lack of time.

On February 23 this year, Ms Bruce proposed the measure as an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill. The amendment was defeated by 292 votes to 201. A review of sex-selective abortion was agreed on instead.

What happened in the meantime?

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper wrote to Labour MPs saying new legislation was not needed, and attempts to outlaw abortion on grounds of gender could have "troubling consequences."

Labour MP Robert Fiello said "It is concerning that an amendment that clarified what should be the law anyway is meeting with such vehement opposition. The reasons they have given are scaremongering nonsense."

 "Given how modest the amendment was, the sudden defeat was very strange indeed," wrote Dr Tim Stanley in the Telegraph. A number of charges had been made by MPs against the amendment that were based on either misunderstandings or outright falsehoods. "On the day of the vote, according to sources present, Ms Cooper stood by the entrance to the lobby telling MPs that 'We are voting no on this one.'"

Her office claimed she had not said this, but confirmed that she was strongly opposed to the amendment, and also favours putting "buffer zones" around clinics to stop people protesting outside them. (A campaign named "Back Off" has been organised to prevent people offering help to women approaching clinics. Not all women want abortions. Some do not see any other option.)

In the two weeks since the vote, I have pondered the change of mind. The abortion lobby generally favours abortion at any time for any reason. I am forced to the opinion that those in favour of abortion consider any attempt to change the law an attack on their efforts to achieve that goal. .

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Believe me, marriage is worth it

The Marriage Foundation has produced a 2015 election manifesto for all political parties.

(The Marriage Foundation is a UK-based think tank established by Sir Paul Coleridge, then a High Court judge, to champion long-lasting stable marriage relationships and help children by reducing marriage break-up.

Says Sir Paul: "Despite the glossy magazine image of a so-called happy marriage, it does not fall from the sky ready made on to beautiful people in white linen suits. It is hewn out of the rock of human stubbornness and selfishness with cold chisels, and day by day, over the lifetime of the relationship, it involves endless hard work, compromise, forgiveness and love. It is often held together with string and rusty nails but it is, in the end, beautiful and, like everything which is really worthwhile, is worth the investment.")

The manifesto says family breakdown lies at the heart of most of society's social problems, and all political parties should unequivocally support marriage and families. Skills can be learned, support provided, ignorance dispelled and responsibility encouraged.

It suggests five policies which are urgently needed:

A cabinet-level minister for families and family breakdown should be provided.

 A tax and benefits system that supports marriage should be introduced. Britain is almost alone in failing significantly to reward couples who stay together.

Relationships education for both children and adults should be funded and promoted.

Family law should be modernised. The next Government should completely overhaul laws relating to divorce and financial arrangements.

Marriage should be unashamedly championed as the gold standard for all, and entrenched myths, like "marriage is just a piece of paper" and "cohabitation is as stable as marriage" should be eradicated.

Harry Benson, founder of Bristol Community Family Trust and research director of the Marriage Foundation, has it all worked out.

He says that the new tax marriage allowance has finally come into force two months before the end of a five-year Government. The Prime Minister has been very vocal in his support for marriage. Our politicians should be shouting out about this new policy from the housetops.

"But they are not. That deafening silence you hear is the sound of embarrassment about the feebleness of a policy they know is a belated and half-hearted attempt to fulfil a long-standing pledge. . . 

"The scale of the problem is breathtaking. Nearly half of all our teenagers are not living with both natural parents. Picking up the pieces now costs the taxpayer £47 billion per year. That's more than the defence budget, half of the education budget, and up £1 billion on the previous year.

"We desperately need a political consensus that backs marriage without reservation. In order to avoid being in any way judgmental or dogmatic, it must be based on evidence. Successful marriages are the norm. Success outside of marriage is the exception.

"All of the main party leaders are married. They know it's important for them personally. And yet for some of them - no prizes for guessing Nick Clegg - supporting marriage remains 'patronising drivel that belongs to the Edwardian era.'"

The marriage allowance, Benson says, will affect only a quarter of married couples, who will be only £4 a week better off. Any family on low to mid income is receiving tax credits - which means that couples with one child can be up to £7,295 better off apart - or pretending to live apart - up to £9,417 better off if they have two children, and up to £11,059 better off if they have three.

I applaud the Marriage Foundation for their principles. I agree with Harry Benson's remarks quoted above. If I may add a word of advice of my own: Don't let financial differences worry you. Marriage is worth it.