Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Missionaries to society

On the 25 May 2012 The Daily Telegraph reported that the Home Secretary Teresa May said "homosexuals will be missionaries to the wider society and make it stronger." She made this comment in relation to government plans to legalise same-sex marriage. 

In the same vein pro-abortion voices say they defend abortion because they take motherhood so seriously. Similarly, self-described pro-choice advocates present abortion as a means of exercising free choice and ensuring women's equality. 

What we have is a moral inversion - bad is called good. That which causes harm is called enhancing. 

What our society continually and urgently needs is for pro-lifers, those who believe in the dignity of the human person from conception, and the institution of heterosexual marriage as best for children born and unborn, to be missionaries to the wider society, and make it stronger. We can and should go to talks and conferences, read articles, and learn the arguments, but if we do not take the message to others we are not being effective. We end up creating a pro-life cottage industry where we talk to ourselves about what we already know and agree upon.

Pope Francis, in 2005 whilst still a cardinal in Argentina, gave a sermon to a group of pro-lifers. His sermon included the following message. Although it will have obvious relevance for Christians, especially Catholics, it's useful for us all in appreciating the spirit we need in order to be missionaries to the wider society:
But it is a road that is full of wolves, and perhaps for that reason they might bring us to the courts, perhaps, for that reason, for caring for life they might kill us.  We should think about the Christian martyrs.  They killed them for preaching this Gospel of life, this Gospel that Jesus brought.  But Jesus gives us the strength.  Go forth!  Don't be fools, remember, a Christian doesn't have the luxury of being foolish, I'm not going to repeat, an idiot, a fool, he can't give himself the luxury.  He has to be clever, he has to be astute, to carry this out.
Society, unborn children and their parents, need you to be a missionary right where you live - whether village, town or city. Taking the pro-life message to the public - leafleting, table displays, prayer vigils, pro-life chains, walks of witness, supporting pro-life pregnancy centres, writing letters to local and national press, calling into radio shows, objecting to BPAS and Marie Stopes abortion adverts in pub and club toilets etc etc - not only brings the message to a wider audience, but also strengthens our resolve to be actively pro-life.

Fr (Blessed) Miguel Pro, Mexican martyr 1927
White Rose movement - student resistance to Nazi atrocities
Greensboro Woolworth restaurant sit-ins 1960

Pakistani politician Shahbaz Bhatti murdered for opposing oppressive sharia laws
Pro-life street display table
Large pro-life prayer vigil
Pro-life display table at a local council festival

SPUC's Anthony Ozimic explaining the nature of marriage on national television

 Young adults March for marriage in Paris
Pro-life tour with the Olympic torch
Post-abortive mothers public witness
Email your name, address, and number of pro-life leaflets you want:

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hitler's Struggle for Eugenics: Part I

Hitler’s Mein Kampf is one of the most notorious works of the twentieth century. It is generally recognised as being the blueprint for the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. It is however rarely seen in its correct context as a piece of eugenic literature in the same tradition as Marie Stopes’ Radiant Motherhood, H.G Wells’ A Modern Utopia and Margaret Sanger’s The Pivot of Civilisation. In this series of posts I wish to focus attention on the eugenic principles which not only inform the whole work but which are in fact its ultimate foundation.

The inspiration behind Mein Kampf was Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Hitler saw races and nations as governed by the law of ‘the survival of the fittest’. Weak races deserved to be outcompeted and subjected to the will of stronger races. This sense of perpetual competition surely informs the title of the book, ‘Mein Kampf’, which means ‘My Struggle.’ Hitler begins his account by outlining how his own life began as a struggle against the overbearing will of his father. Hitler’s attempt to pursue a career as an artist ended in failure and with Hitler eking out a living, homeless, on the streets of Vienna. He was saved from being a victim of natural selection himself by the outbreak of the First World War which provided him with a cause to fight for. The defeat of Germany in November 1918 was a shattering emotional blow and Hitler, like many of his contempories, found solace in the view that Germany had not really been defeated on the battlefield but had rather been betrayed by politicians at home. In the immediate aftermath of defeat Germany was racked by revolution and counter-revolution as Communist uprisings took place across the nation. Hitler was present in Munich during the Bolshevik revolution of 1919 and for him it was a moment of political awakening. He became involved in an extreme fringe of German political life which merged a desire for radical social change with extreme nationalism, often with overt assertions of racial superiority. Anti-Jewish feeling was common among such groups because of the prominent Jewish involvement in the left-wing revolutionary movement as well as older associations of Jews with wealth and capital. The National Socialist ideology, which combined hostility to Communists and Jews with the Darwinian theory of evolution, was appealing to many because it provided a supposedly scientific justification for strong actions to restore German power and punish internal and external enemies.

Hitler’s belief in German superiority had its origins in his Austrian childhood which was marked by assertions by German Austrians of their identity in the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had however at one time considered himself hostile to anti-Semitism and in one remarkable passage he describes his earlier disgust at anti-Jewish rhetoric and his horror at the possibility of violence against the Jews. In Mein Kampf  he explains that his views changed after discovering the prominent role of Jews in the Social Democratic movement, which he detested, and their role in socialist and Marxist movements in general as well as in immoral industries such as prostitution. These feelings hardened during the post-war revolutionary period because many of the revolutionary leaders were Jewish. These reasons however are not sufficient to account for the full horror of the persecution and genocide unleashed under the Third Reich. The Nazi regime did not seek out Jews who were political opponents but rather all people of Jewish ancestry whatever their religious beliefs, political views, or social status. This was the result of Hitler’s conviction that the Jewish people were racially different, sub-human, and along with other groups such as Roma and Sinti gypsies in need of extermination. Hitler was not the creator of this ideology; he was simply a student of the international eugenics movement. 

To be continued...

Learn more about the founders of 'scientific racism':

Help fight eugenics today:

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Baby on board

If you live in London, or just read the news now and again, you would have heard about the Transport for London "baby on Board" badges that pregnant mums are wearing on the lapels of their coats. Here's a few pictures and how to get one for yourself or a friend.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

27,500 chances to help unborn children

In September 2011 SPUC had 400,000 "Abortion: your right to know" leaflets printed. 

SPUC now has 27,500 of these leaflets left.

That's 27,500 chances for you to help unborn children.

2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act. If the current abortion rate continues, 9 million unborn children will have been aborted. SPUC is working towards the complete rejection of abortion by society. One of the ways we will do this is by taking the pro-life message to the people via leafleting. You can see the leaflet below.

Last year there was a total of 208,553 unborn children aborted in Great Britain which is more than:
  • the entire university student population of Wales (131, 185)
  • the entire student populations of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Imperial College London, University College London, Warwick, Bristol, King's College London, Exeter, London School of Economics, and Royal Veterinary College combined. (statistics taken from the Higher Education Statistics Authority)
If that bothers you, then please order a batch of leaflets and distribute them in your area. 

Email your name, postal address, and number of leaflets to 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fantastic day with students at Oxford Brookes pro-life society

The newly created pro-life society at Oxford Brookes University has distinguished itself by combining, right from the start, a healthy balance of educational talks and pro-life activism.

When student groups hold talks, interested students will come to hear the pro-life message. These talks are a good way of educating the members of a pro-life society, as well as providing an opportunity for people to challenge ideas. Talks allow for Q&A, discussion, debate, the opportunity to meet other like-minded students, as well as socialise. 

The benefit of outreach, namely leafleting, is that you don't wait for people to come and hear the pro-life message; instead you take the message directly to them. Universities have tens of thousands of students, and an activity like leafleting is a simple and effective way of getting something pro-life into students hands. A well crafted leaflet can engage the mind and the heart, give people helplines, factual information, raise questions, and direct the reader to online resources. Political parties, local restaurants and take-aways, businesses, and charities all use leafleting as a method of getting their message across and putting themselves on peoples radars. Another inspirational example is the White Rose Movement, who were a group of university students in Germany under the Nazi government. They wrote, printed, and distributed thousands of leaflets denouncing the injustices carried out by the Nazi government. This bold witness lead to their trial and swift executions. Their legacy lives on decades later as an example to us.

So, a group from Oxford Brookes - Genevieve, Max, Elsa, and myself from SPUC - spent an afternoon leafleting last week. Around 1000 homes were reached with a SPUC 9 Million Children leaflet, which details the development of the unborn child, the effects of abortion upon women, and helplines for those facing an unexpected pregnancy or are post-abortive. We stopped off for a nice lunch in a local pub, then did a bit more leafleting afterwards.

Later in the evening around fifteen of us headed to the student union building where I gave a pro-life presentation on unborn children and the right to life. There were some good questions and the pro-life society committee felt the evening went well and generated lots of new members who want to be actively pro-life in their university and local city. It was really nice to meet the students and they made me feel very welcome.

I am very grateful to have been invited to join them for the day. It is clear that getting a balance between educational talks and outreach is the way forward for student societies. These activities together will ensure that the society grows and continues year after year, building on the commitment of students, and ensures that as many people as possible hear the pro-life message. Students, be ambitious, aim high.

If you're a student or young adult and want to hold a talk and get involved in leafleting outreach, please email me. There are nearly 63 million people in the UK, we need to show each of them that the unborn child is a human person with the right to life. We need to show each of them that abortion is wrong and never a solution. The need is urgent.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Utilitarianism isn't useful

Richard Doerflinger
An interesting article by John Jalsevac appeared recently on Life Site News reporting on an address delivered by Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the Pro-Life Secretariat at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to the annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. 

Scientists who profess utilitarianism (which can be summed up in Bentham’s phrase “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.”) often accuse those who oppose unethical practices, such as embryonic stem cell research, of standing in the way of scientific progress. Doerflinger argues that it is in fact the disregard shown by many scientists to moral norms that has impeded progress. For example, many pressed ahead with embryonic stem cell research as a way of ‘pushing boundaries’ despite indications that adult stem cells in fact offered the best possibilities for new treatments. Ideology triumphed over good science.

Doerflinger’s address reminds us that pursuing the moral good will always lead to progress in all areas of life while doing evil that good may come of it will only ever end in greater evils.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

"Stop harassing women"? Study examines impact of pro-life activity outside abortion premises

Those who criticise pro-life groups for holding public acts of witness outside abortion facilities will often claim that these vigils harass, scare, and intimidate mothers who enter and leave abortion facilities. This criticism comes from abortion "charities" like BPAS, Marie Stopes International, university and local feminist groups, mainstream media, and individuals on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

Groups criticised by those supporting abortion include 40 Days for Life, the Good Counsel Network, the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, Abort67, and SPUC coordinated annual pro-life chains. This list is not intended as a SPUC endorsement of the groups listed, rather to recognise the groups who are very often criticised. Occasionally an anonymous anecdote or a quote is presented as evidence that pro-lifers are there to harass mothers outside of abortion facilities. 

However, rarely if ever is something more substantial cited, such as a study that attempts to seriously consider the experiences of mothers and pro-life vigils outside of abortion facilities. There are a few studies that are not well known.

The most recent study is by Diana Greene Foster et al, "Effect of abortion protesters on women's emotional response to abortion", Contraception 87 (2013) 81-87. Here is the abstract which briefly summarises the study:
Background: Little is known about women's experiences with and reactions to protesters and how protesters affect women's emotional responses to abortion.
Study Design: We interviewed 956 women seeking abortion between 2008 and 2010 at 30 US abortion care facilities and informants from 27 of these facilities.
Results: Most facilities reported a regular protester presence; one third identified protesters as aggressive towards patients. Nearly half (46%) of women interviewed saw protesters; of those, 25% reported being a little upset, and 16% reported being quite a lot or extremelyy upset. Women who had difficulty deciding to abort had higher odds of reporting being upset by protesters. In multivariable models, exposure to protesters was not associated with differences in emotions 1 week after the abortion. Conclusion: Protesters do upset some women seeking abortion services. However, exposure to protesters does not seem to have an effect on women's emotions about the abortion 1 week later.
This study notes that "although researchers and advocates have reason to believe that abortion protesters affect women's experience of abortion, little research has comprehensively documented women's experience of protester interactions". It is useful in some ways, but first let's list a few of the problems.

First, the researchers label pro-life vigils as "protests" and the people as "protesters". This is unhelpful, because in our society the word "protest" summons up images of shouting crowds marching through the street, conflict with police, arrests, aggression and so on. The use of the word "protester" can also be a biasing factor in the design of the study. Questions asked to abortion staff and mothers using the word protester can influence the way the participant views the question and affects the answer given, even to the point of giving the sort of answer they think the researchers expect to hear.

Second, the different types of pro-life vigil are labelled as passive (praying quietly at a distance), aggressive (shouting at women, attempting to hand out literature), or mixed (both passive and aggressive). It seems like a stretch of the imagination to label handing out a leaflet as an aggressive act. Is it possible that there have been times when someone who is part of a vigil shouts? Yes, peoples feelings can run high and saying something back to a passer-by who just swore at you might feel justified at the time, particularly if the person has little or no experience of how to behave at appropriately at a vigil. This is why groups like 40 Days for Life and Good Counsel Network insist that vigil participants sign a statement of peace - a short code of conduct participants should follow. Often passers-by will shout abusive comments at pro-lifers. Sometimes, but less often, banners, placards, and displays are kicked, broken and stolen by passers-by. A mother walking into an abortion facility may well mistake a passer-by and an pro-lifer having an altercation as aimed at her in someway.

Third, the study cites the American Psychological Association (APA) task force report on mental health and abortion report 2008 and the 2011 Munk-Olsen study on induced abortion and risk of mental disorder. These studies are cited to support the paper's claim that the vast majority of women report positive emotional outcomes after their abortion, and poor mental health after abortion due to poor mental health before the abortion. However, these claims and the studies used to support them cannot be taken at face value. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published an extensive critique of the APA report in September 2008. Professor David Fergusson, atheist and self-described "pro-choicer" and one of the international leading experts on abortion and mental health, criticised the APA 2008 report in August of that year.
The APA report, in fact, does draw a very strong and dogmatic conclusion that cannot be defended on the basis of evidence since this evidence is lacking by the admission of the report. As I stated to the APA committee in my review [of an earlier draft], the only scientifically defensible position to take is that the evidence in the area is inconsistent and contested. Under these conditions the only scientifically defensible conclusion is to recognise the uncertainty in the evidence and propose better research and greater investments in this area. What the Committee has, in effect, said is that until there is compelling evidence to the contrary, people should act as though abortion has no harmful effects. This is not a defensible position in a situation in which there is evidence pointing in the direction of harmful effects. In this respect, the response of the APA committee to this situation appears to follow the type of logic used by the Tobacco industry to defend cigarettes: since, in our opinion, there is no conclusive evidence of harm then the product may be treated as safe. A better logic is that used by the critics of the industry: since there is suggestive evidence of harmful effects it behooves us to err on the side of caution and commission more and better research before drawing strong conclusions. History showed which side had the better arguments.
What I also think the APA committee has failed to recognise is the size of the research investment needed to pin these issues down thoroughly. The tobacco example is a clear one: there have been literally tens of thousands of studies in this area (I have in fact published over 10 papers on tobacco related topics). This amount of research is needed in an area in which there are strongly divided opinions and deeply rooted agendas. The moral of all of this is very simple: In science drawing strong conclusions on the basis of weak evidence is bad practice. The APA report on abortion and mental health falls into this error.
Furthermore, Professor Priscilla Coleman, another international expert and one of the most published academics on abortion and mental health, has listed six considerable criticisms of the Munk-Olsen study, and points out that data from this study, despite evident problems,
does indicate increased rates of particular diagnoses at specific points in the first year. Relative risk for psychiatric visits involving neurotic, stress-related, or somatoform disorders was 47% and 37% higher post-abortion compared to pre-abortion at 2 and 3 months respectively.  In addition, psychiatric contact for personality or behavioral disorders was 56%, 45%, 31%, and 55% higher at 3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 months respectively.
Having briefly covered the obvious problems with this study, there are also useful points from the perspective of those who carry out public pro-life work outside abortion facilities.

First the Foster et al study cites the Cozzarelli and Major 2000 study which examined the experience of mothers who had interacted with pro-lifers outside of three different abortion facilities in New York. This study has many of the problems mentioned above. However, Foster et al conclude from this study that for some women "negative effects of protester interaction did not extend beyond the short term." In both the Foster, and Cozzarelli and Major studies, it seems the mother's thoughts and feelings about the abortion influence how she perceives pro-lifers outside of an abortion facility.

Second, this study found the following:
"Among women who saw, heard or were stopped by protesters, 48% said that the protesters did not upset them at all, 25% said they were a little bit upset, 12% reported being moderately upset, 9% reported being quite a bit upset, and 7% were extremely upset"

"women who reported more difficulty making the decision to have the abortion reported being more upset than women reporting less difficult"

"Among the 712 women in the study who received an abortion and replied to both the emotions and protester questions, we found no association between emotions about the abortion — regret, relief, guilt, happiness, sadness or anger — and the level of exposure to protesters."

"the presence and intensity of the protester interaction had no effect on women's emotional response to their abortion (relief, regret, anger, happiness, sadness or guilt) 1 week after the abortion"
Third, this study notes that if pro-lifers deterred some mothers from entering an abortion facility they would not appear in this study. Some mothers would have had an interaction with pro-lifers and decided not to have an abortion. These mothers are therefore not recorded. If they were included we'd be looking at mothers who could describe their experience with pro-lifers as good and positive. From pro-lifers they have received moral and emotional support, perhaps a place to stay, financial help, advice and so on. Perhaps a mother going to an abortion facility didn't want to have the abortion in the first place and just needed a word of encouragement, even some sort of sign that would reassure them. It's possible that a pro-life counsellor outside an abortion facility will be the first person not to tell them that they must have an abortion. The researchers could have gone to pro-life pregnancy centres and homes and conducted the same interviews with mothers who had some sort of positive interaction with pro-lifers outside an abortion facility and asked them to answer the questionnaire.

Several pro-life groups provid moral and practical assistance to parents in need. Some make pro-life vigils part of their work, others don't. One pro-life pregnancy centre in the South, Good Counsel Network, does a good job of recording the number of mothers whom they meet on the doorstep of a BPAS or Marie Stopes International abortion facility, but get the help they need and give birth. Last year this pro-life centre recorded 95 such mothers they supported through the rest of their pregnancy. However, there are also many more who prefer not to stay in touch - they had the short term support they needed, sometimes their difficult circumstances change for the better, a boyfriend has a change of heart, and off they go. Sometimes mothers will lose touch and it remains unclear what happens after. The experience of mothers who have a positive experience should be heard and not dismissed by pro-abortion advocates because these mothers, and the support of pro-lifers, do not fit into the distortions they insist on spreading.

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