Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Two things worth adding YOUR voice to

John Smeaton draws our attention to two ways we can stand up and be counted, hopefully with profitable effect in terms of saving lives.

Stop Eugenics Now

This is a new European initiative which has launched an online petition open to individuals, families and disabled rights organisations to sign.  It calls upon the European Court of Human Rights to “reaffirm the principle of the prohibition of eugenics, and the obligation of the Member States to protect the life of every person, including of the disabled before their birth.”

The background against which the petition is being brought is that of the case of Anita Kruzmane v. Latvia. Anita's doctor suggested, at 18 weeks pregnant, that she have an appointment with a specialist to include an alpha-feto protein (AFP) test which is used to detect foetal abnormalities.  Anita, who claims that she was not in fact referred for this test, went on to give birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome.  She has taken her case to the Court of European Human Rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming that the negligence of a doctor has meant she was denied adequate and timely medical care (the AFP test) resulting in her being unaware that her foetus was at risk of having a genetic defect - and that she therefore was denied the opportunity to choose whether or not to continue with her pregnancy.

John Smeaton points out that this case follows several other high-profile ones about abortion, including "several cases from France and the Netherlands concerning so-called 'wrongful births' of children with conditions such as Down’s syndrome".

What is the central issue at stake here?  The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has said, “This case may provide an opportunity for the Court to clarify its case-law with regard to eugenics and abortion. This is necessary due to some visible confusion in the existing case-law, and this is made possible considering the large number of important cases currently before the Court on this issue.”

Mr Smeaton reports Gregor Puppinck of the ECLJ as seeing the key question arising from this case to be:
"Does the [European Convention on Human Rights] guarantee a right to eugenics for parents, and in particular to the procedure of prenatal screening-elimination of sick or disabled fetuses? If so, does the State have a positive obligation in this regard?"
That is, as Stop Eugenics now puts it,  Should the elimination of one’s unborn baby because it has Down syndrome be regarded as a human fundamental right? 

Many readers will be aware that in the UK, out of those babies diagnosed before birth as having Down's Syndrome, 92% will be aborted.  It is legal in our country to abort a baby right up until birth if it is found to have a disability or handicap.  Certainly, as a child growing up in the 1960's and 70's, I knew or met several Down's Syndrome people.  One lived in the same block of flats as us.  These days you rarely see any... because they haven't been born.

Certainly some of those I knew had varying degrees of health problems, but what I clearly remember is that they invariably had huge smiles on their faces!  Possibly this is a trick of memory of the it-was-always-sunny-in-summer-when-I-was-a-child type, but Down's Syndrome children are certainly more than capable of deriving a lot of pleasure from life and giving a lot of pleasure to those around them.  Why, then, are we killing them?

With regard to "wrongful birth" cases I admit I find it hard to get my head around the fact that a mother can look at her child and say she feels that child shouldn't have been born.  I am not judging such parents... or at least I am trying my best not to judge, because I know I am not standing in their shoes or feeling the pressure and demands they must cope with.  Presumably they are acting out of compassion for their child, who they must feel will not have a good quality of life.  I only know that it gives me the chills to think there are now prenatal tests for my daughter's condition and that a parent could choose to abort a child like her.  In fact I try not to think about it, because the idea that Aila might never have existed is too awful.  At the same time I know I have to do what I can to avoid other Ailas being denied their right to life.

That's why I signed Stop Eugenics Now's petition and encourage you to do so too.  What else is systematic testing for disability in an unborn child followed by the automatic right to abortion, other than eugenics?  There were many people in the last century who mounted passionate arguments in favour of eugenics and there are people doing the same now.  The fact remains that it is an unacceptable use of medical technology and an inhuman form of discrimination against those we deem not fit to live - however we couch our arguments in terms of a misguided compassion and concern for "quality of life" (a flexible term if ever there was one, defined differently by different people).

I've said it before and I'll say it again!  True compassion tries its utmost to offer people reasons to live, not ways to die (or to be killed).

One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies

Hat tip again to John Smeaton for drawing attention to a campaign being run by the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization.  They are collecting pledges to pray a rosary (or two!) for unborn children over 4-6 May, to bring an end to "the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons".  They didn't quite make their target last year but say that people from over 30 nations participated.  Why not go over to the website here and make your pledge?  Imagine the prayer power of hundreds of thousands of Rosaries being offered up around the globe for the same intention over those three days... what couldn't the Holy Spirit do with that?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:57,58)

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