Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Summary from SPUC on Human fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Sad day for those who respect sanctity and dignity of human life and who tirelessly campaigned to oppose the HFE bill.
MPs voted by 355 to 129 in favour of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill at third reading (final main vote).

bill enshrines and extends the creation and abuse of human embryos outside the womb. Despite the bill's passage, SPUC paid tribute to all those who have opposed the bill.

John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "Today is a tragic date in British history, as Parliament has passed a law extending the lethal abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. Future generations will look back on this macabre bill and wonder how a supposedly civilised nation could have so devalued human life. SPUC intends to raise these fundamental issues at the general election.

"Our only consolation is that thousands of people across the country have joined a concerted campaign in solidarity with unborn children. Prominent national church leaders, such as Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, showed that strong, clear, courageous stands can put the sanctity of human life at the forefront of public debate. Scores of doctors, lawyers and academics have defended the weakest of the weak. Many pro-life groups, representing the range of activity within the pro-life movement have come together to work against the bill. Choose Life, CARE and Christian Concern for Our Nation led strong initiatives from the Evangelical and Anglican Christians. The Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales gave strong encouragement to Catholic layfolk to speak out on the issue. Others spoke out from the Muslim tradition, the Jewish faith and from multi-faith and interdenominational groups. Equally important, particularly on the issues of embryology, human-animal hybrids and stem cell research have been the contribution of experts scientific and medical bodies and bioethicists.
"The threat of imposing abortion legislation on Northern Ireland met with concerted and powerful resistance. The politicians and people of Northern Ireland showed that a pro-life community cannot be bullied into submission by the ethically compromised Westminster establishment.
"Individual pro-life campaigners and supporters showed that they can work together to deliver politically effective campaigns at a national, regional and local level.

"Despite the embryo bill's passage, the pro-life movement remains motivated to continue developing a peaceful and powerful resistance movement to the culture of death."

The government succeeded in scheduling discussion of amendments so that there was not enough time to discuss abortion-related issues, including the extension of British abortion law to Northern Ireland. Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA said that issue should be decided upon by the province's legislative assembly. [BBC, 22 October] Mrs Betty Gibson, chairwoman of SPUC Northern Ireland, said: "The leaders of the four major parties in Northern Ireland wrote to every MP opposing the extension of the Act and many members of the Assembly made it clear that they would not implement the law if it was imposed. In the face of such opposition the prime minister has realised that, if pro-abortion MPs outside Northern Ireland ignored the Assembly, it would have created a constitutional dilemma which he would have had to deal with." [SPUC, 22 October]

MPs and others wrote to The Times newspaper to express their concern that the extension of British abortion law to Northern Ireland might not be debated. Ms Diane Abbott and others complained that current law discriminates against poorer women. [Times, 22 October] People from Northern Ireland yesterday delivered a petition, opposing the extension of British abortion law, at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official home in London. The petition was coordinated by Ms Bernadette Smyth who organised a rally on the matter in Belfast on Saturday. [BBC, 22 October]

Support for pregnant women is, on its own, an insufficient response to abortion, according to American Catholic bishops. Cardinal Justin Rigali, the bishops' pro-life committee chairman, and Rt Rev William Murphy, head of the domestic justice and human development committee, say that abortion on demand must also be opposed. They point out that merely overturning the 1973 Roe v Wade supreme court decision would not guarantee a right to life for the unborn. The prelates warn against unofficial attempts to interpret Catholic teaching on the matter. [Catholic News Service, 21 October] Rt Rev Arthur Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, likened Senator Barack Obama, Democrat candidate, to Herod Antipas, the first century ruler of Galilee who ordered an execution in order to keep a promise. Mr Obama has pledged to sign a law which would remove all restrictions on abortion and over-ride medics' conscientious objection to the procedure. [LifeSiteNews, 21 October] Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat running mate, has suggested that there has been continuous debate in the Catholic church about whether abortion is always wrong. Mr Biden describes himself as a practising Catholic. He was previously rebuked by the hierarchy when he suggested that when human life began was a private matter. [LifeNews, 21 October]