Arizona Bishops Condemn Efforts to Curtail Physician Freedom of Conscience

May 6, 2008 by

By John Jalsevac for LifeSite News PHOENIX, AZ, May 5, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new statement from the Arizona Conference of Catholic Bishops, signed by Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, strongly condemns recent efforts by lawmakers in Arizona and throughout the United States to curtail fundamental rights of conscience, particularly the freedom of conscience of physicians and healthcare workers. "Today in our state and elsewhere in our nation, healthcare professionals and institutions find themselves struggling to preserve their rights of conscience, especially in matters that would involve the taking of human life," begins the bishops’ statement. "The right to follow one’s religious beliefs and moral convictions is being compromised, undermined, and increasingly disregarded today by those who insist that actions be taken that violate the moral convictions a person holds dear or that underlie the very mission of an institution." The bishops claim that "the pressure to deny ‘rights of conscience’ continues to mount" across the country, and cite several examples from their own state to illustrate. "Pressure to violate one’s conscience is an increasing reality for today’s doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. We are aware here in Arizona of doctors who face ridicule and difficult ramifications if they are unwilling to participate in or sanction abortions in the course of their work. We are also aware of a nurse in Arizona who was fired from a hospital for refusing to participate in abortions, only to be later hired back because of a nursing shortage. Likewise, pharmacists in our communities feel compelled and are being forced to violate their conscience, especially in the distribution of medication that may act as an abortifacient." In particular the bishops take to task already existent legislation in Arizona that forces employers to provide healthcare coverage to their employees that includes coverage for contraception. "This law clearly forces Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities and Catholic Hospitals to act in a way that is contrary to our moral teaching." "Ironically," the bishops observe, "supporters of ‘mandatory contraception’ legislation often advocate for a ‘separation of church and state,’ but do not see the inconsistency involved in the state forcing church organizations to violate critically important tenets of their faith." The bishops conclude their statement by encouraging Catholics and all men and women of good will to take action to protect freedom of conscience in five different ways: 1) Prayer, 2) Self-education on the issue of freedom of conscience, 3) Involvement in the political process, 4) Supporting healthcare providers in matters of conscience, and 5) Joining with people of other faiths and those of goodwill to find solutions. "The opportunity to refuse to take part in the consultation, preparation, and execution of these acts against life should be guaranteed to physicians, health care personnel, and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities," conclude the bishops. "Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, and financial plane."...

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Council of Europe Declares Unlimited Abortion an Unconditional Right for all of Europe

Apr 17, 2008 by

By Hilary White for LifeSite News STRASBOURG, April 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has passed a resolution to declare unlimited legal abortion an unconditional right. The Assembly passed the resolution with 102 to 69 votes with 14 abstentions. Amendments seeking to make the resolution less extreme in its promotion of abortion were rejected. In preparation for what is being described as a rushed vote, the Assembly restricted plenary session speeches to three minutes, amendment speeches to 30 seconds and denied the Assembly’s legal affairs committee any scrutiny. Only 185 of the 318 members of the Assembly were present for the vote. Pat Buckley of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who was present at today’s debate, said, "Today is a tragic day for Europe, not least because this report in favour of even more killing of unborn children was rushed through the Assembly without proper scrutiny…The only consolation is that the resolution is not legally binding." Nigel Dodds, MP and MLA for Belfast North, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and a minister in the Northern Ireland executive, said, "It’s a sad day for the unborn child in Europe, but the fight goes on." Assembly member Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, representing Malta, a country which upholds the right to life of all children, born and unborn, opposed the resolution, warning that "a society which destroys its young condemns itself to oblivion." The Assembly, the oldest of the pan-European organisations, has no power to compel compliance among member states, but its recommendations are nonetheless influential in other bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights. Buckley continued, "Nothing in the European Convention on Human Rights recognises a right to abortion or confers on individuals a right to require a state to permit or facilitate abortion. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the issue of when the right to life begins is a question to be decided at national level. It follows that the legal protection afforded to early human life must also be decided at national level." The PACE committee met in late March to discuss a report that called for the total elimination among European Union member states of any legal restrictions on abortion. The report called for "access to safe and legal abortion" and urged all the member states to "guarantee women’s effective exercise of their right to abortion." The committee’s report criticised even the legal restrictions not specifically restricting abortion, saying, "The repeated medical consultations required, the time allowed for changing one’s mind and the waiting time for the abortion all have the potential to make access to abortion more difficult, or even impossible in practice". "The ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous. The lawfulness of abortion does not have an effect on a woman’s need for an abortion, but only on her access to a safe abortion,"...

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Blair Formally Refuses to Respond to Abortion and Embryo Research Questions after "Conversion" to Catholicism

Apr 15, 2008 by

By Hilary White for LifeSite News Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain and avid supporter of legal abortion and homosexual "marriage" who was received into the Catholic Church late last year, has issued a statement refusing to answer questions regarding his position on abortion and embryonic research in the light of his alleged conversion. In an open letter, the Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, John Smeaton, had asked Blair if he would, now that he was ostensibly a Catholic, renounce his former views and political activism on abortion and the use of embryonic human beings in experimental research. A spokesman from Blair’s office responded, "Mr Blair recognises that this is a subject of great concern to many people around the world and on which a variety of deeply held convictions are held." "However the Foundation inevitably has to focus on a limited number of issues, especially as it develops its thinking and builds up its resources. It plans to concentrate initially on the following four areas: how the different faiths might work more closely together to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals…This means that, at the moment, the Foundation will not be able to address the issue of pro-life, weighty though it is. " The letter was the second Smeaton had sent to Mr. Blair asking for answers to the same questions. The letter was sent after Blair gave the opening lecture of the Cardinal’s Lecture series April 3rd at Westminster Cathedral. Smeaton wrote that the statement constitutes a non-response to questions he did not ask from a person he did not address. "I didn’t write to Mr Blair’s Foundation or to Mr Blair about his Foundation. I wrote to Mr Blair, at his office, to ask him whether he repudiates his anti-life record in parliament and government." The letter from Blair’s staff concludes, "Nor, I am afraid, will Mr Blair be able to enter into correspondence on his personal beliefs on this or indeed other issues." But Smeaton said he did not ask to "enter into correspondence" about Blair’s religious beliefs. "I asked him, a public figure, about his public record on matters of current public policy – under which hundreds of thousands of unborn British people, and unborn people in developing countries, are killed every year." Questions about the depth of Blair’s reported religious conversion and the motives of Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor who received him into the Church late last year have multiplied in the last few weeks, ever since Blair’s speech at Westminster Cathedral. In his speech, with the Cardinal present, Blair promoted an ambiguous concept of "faith" as a force for "progress" in the political and social spheres. Blair said that people "of faiths" should not be exclusive or "extremist." Citing English new age author and former Catholic Karen Armstrong, Blair spoke of the "evolution" of religious thought from "earliest times" when it was irrational and unforgiving, to "modern times" when "faiths" share common values and purpose. Armstrong...

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Teen Sex Linked To Regret and Abortions in Later Adult Life

Apr 13, 2008 by

From LifeSite News DUBLIN, April 11, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Girls who become sexually active before age 17 are almost 70 percent more likely to experience a crisis pregnancy in later life and three times more likely to procure abortion in their lifetime than those who wait until they are older, according to a study released by the Irish Crisis Pregnancy Agency. The Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships, the largest nationally representative study on sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviour ever undertaken in Ireland, was published by the Department of Health and the Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) today. The research found that 14.9 per cent of men and 7.9 per cent of women first engaged in sex when they were less than 16 years old. A majority of the women in that group (59 percent) and more than a third of the men (37 percent) regretted it. The study states, "Lower age of first sex is strongly associated with regret at the timing of first sex, among both men and women." "According to research, the majority of young people wait until they are 17 or older to have sex for the first time," said the CPA’s chairperson Katharine Bulbulia. "However, for those who have had sex before 17, the research shows the impact of early first sex on the individual’s later sexual health, and suggests that some young people…are having first sex at a time that is not right for them. "We need to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to delay their first sexual experience." The report explained that the average age of first sexual encounter for both men and women has steadily declined over the last half century. "Most people now in their 20s will have had their first sexual experience before they were 18." The study found that the current median age of first sexual intercourse is 18 for men and 19 for women. The median age for men currently aged 60 to 64 is 22; for women, 23. For men and women currently under 25, it is 17. The survey of more than 7,400 men and women, found early school dropouts were more likely to lose their virginity as young teenagers than those who stayed in school and completed their education. The study also found that, for people under 30, 38 percent of men and around 20 percent of women said they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they lost their virginity. The study recommended, "Parents need to be acknowledged as the primary relationships and sexuality educators of their children, and to be supported in that role. They need supports provided through a range of initiatives. These supports should particularly address the needs of parents who most need assistance, such as those in lower socio-economic groups." The study also stated, "Health promotion strategies need to foster more responsible public behaviour concerning the use of alcohol and illicit drugs, given their role in sexual encounters."...

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Embryo Research May Never Produce Cures: Head of UK Stem Cell Network

Apr 12, 2008 by

By Hilary White for LifeSite News LONDON, April 11, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Lord Patel of Dunkeld, chairman of the UK National Stem Cell Network and chancellor of Dundee University, told the Scotsman earlier this week that research involving stem cells would likely lead to therapies, but that ultimately such treatments could prove too risky for human use. He also said it could be five to ten years before viable stem cell treatments were available. But even then, he observed, "We have to be cautious. It may not deliver therapy for anything. We may find that stem therapy is quite a risky business." In terms of the efficacy of stem cell cures, Lord Patel did not draw a distinction between embryonic and adult stem cell research. Thus far, however, researchers working with embryos have found that the use of embryonic stem cells involves a high risk of the development of cancerous tumours. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have already been successfully used in a host of cures. Scientists, particularly in the U.K., however, are continuing to push for embryonic stem cell research, including that involving animal-human hybrids, a form of research that Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien has called a "monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life." An enormous amount of money has already been poured into embryonic stem cell research. In 2004, those in favour of embryonic stem cell research in California presented the public with images of the blind seeing and the lame walking, specifically promising cures for such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, to sway a California referendum that proposed to create a $300 million-a-year fund for embryonic research, including human cloning. Promises of imminent cures made to the California voters included cures for spinal cord injuries, blindness, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and more than 70 other diseases and injuries. Many pro-life advocates have long held that extravagant promises of cures have always been a smoke screen used by embryo researchers more interested in learning to manipulate the human genome for non-medical purposes. Lord Patel’s remarks to the Scotsman only serve to confirm what embryo stem cell skeptics have been saying for years. Lord Patel, however, told the Scotsman that despite the high risks and the uncertainty about the future of embryonic stem cell research, such research should be wholeheartedly pursued, including the use of human-animal hybrids. "We had a lot of hype about gene therapy, and while we still use it in some cases it did not deliver the great promise we thought it would because of the side-effects. But the promise just now is great and we must continue with the stem cell science." US author and bioethics-watcher Wesley J. Smith wrote on his blog on Tuesday, in response to Lord Patel’s remarks, criticizing the "journalistic malpractice" that has massively overinflated the promise of embryonic stem cell research. Californians, he observed, are now facing a $16 billion budget deficit in order to borrow the...

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Leading UK AIDS Organisation Website Instructs Gay Men in "Extreme" Sexual and Drug Practices

Apr 10, 2008 by

By Hilary White for LifeSite News LONDON, April 9, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), an organisation in the UK founded ostensibly to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, has set up a website giving graphic information and instruction to homosexual men interested in "extreme" sexual practices. The site, called "Hard Cell", includes photos of male models involved in the various practices described, including "barebacking" – anal sex without condoms; "body mods" like branding, cutting and scarification; bondage and "breath control" or controlled strangulation. The Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered British charity founded to provide information to stem the spread of AIDS, and "promote good sexual health" and is considered the UK’s leading HIV and AIDS charity, and the largest such charity in Europe. The site’s graphics, with photos of men in strongly suggestive scenes, is designed to resemble popular homosexual pornographic websites. It gives information on how to conduct "hard sex" "safely" with a view to the various ways such practices can spread sexually transmitted diseases. The section titled "Safer Drug Taking" also describes various techniques for using illegal drugs like methamphetamine ("crystal meth"), ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, giving advice on how to use the drugs with less risk of spreading disease. One section advises, "Syringes shouldn’t be shared – but if you do, cleaning them between each user means less risk." The group defended the site saying that research is showing that homosexual men have questions about specific sex-related acts, but do not know where to get reliable information. Will Nutland, Strategic Lead for Health Promotion and Health Improvement at THT, told media, "The website provides up-front information right through from bondage and branding to watersports." Recent figures show that the rates of HIV infection among active homosexual men in the UK are rising. The Health Protection Agency released its figures on March 28 showing that an estimated 6,840 new HIV diagnoses were reported in 2007 in the United Kingdom. Over the past 12 months there has been no evidence of a fall in the current high rate of HIV transmission among gay men within the UK. 38 per cent of new diagnoses in 2007 were in this group. Read the rest of the article HERE. See also Pink News  ...

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