Belfast Meeting 2016
Click here for coverage of (Baroness) Nuala O’Loan’s Bill on Conscience
Government Says Smoking Can Kill Your Unborn Child – Abortion Most Certainly Does
And especially if you fail the eugenics test…
Well done Gerber for selecting Lucas, a baby with Downs, as their Gerber baby for 2018. Lucas was chosen from 140,000 entries. Perhaps their welcome choice will challenge UK laws and attitudes that permit abortion up to birth of babies with Downs, laws that lead to 90% of British Downs babies being killed. Perhaps Lucas’ amazing smile will soften a few hearts and challenge the UL’s Eugenics Laws.
February 2018 Church of England Synod Debates Our attitudes Towards Downs
Visit the We’re All Equal Campaign Site
SDLP’s Alban Maginness Sounds The Alarm in the Belfast Telegraph.
The Right Kind of PC – Politically courageous rather than politically correct.
This week Katie Ascough received the Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignity – presented to her by Fiona Bruce MP on behalf of parliamentarians in the All Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group.
While President of the Student Union at University College Dublin Katie was impeached for refusing to promote the taking of the lives of babies in the womb.
Katie is an amazingly brave and courageous young woman, whose refusal to be bullied into doing the opposite of what she believes, is an inspiration to us all. She is pictured here in Westminster Hall where Sir Thomas More, Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellor, stood trial for insisting on following his conscience. Appropriate place for Katie to be pictured and appropriate that she is with another brave woman, Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who on Friday introduces her Bill to protect women, like the Scottish midwives who were sacked for refusing to carry out abortions. Coercion of this kind is a disgrace and we can only be grateful for the leadership and example of women who combine conscience and compassion – and are politically courageous rather than politically correct.
Katie Ascough in the Media
Irish Times, 24th January 2018
Keep the Faith US Christian news broadcaster, 25th January 2018
Catholic Herald Online, 25th January 2018
LifeNews.com , January 24th 2018
University Observer (University College Dublin), January 14th 2018
Baroness Nuala O’Loan’s Bill to ensure conscientious objection rights for all medical professionals passes Second Reading – January 26th 2018
Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activites) Bill which seeks to ensure conscience rights for all medical professionals has received a second reading in the House of Lords .
The Bill clarifies the law to ensure conscience protections are in place for all medical professionals to protect them from discrimination, enabling them to fully participate in their chosen professions and care for patients to the best of their ability.
Under the existing law, some medical professionals are not protected from unjust discrimination. GPs, as well as many nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and other medical professionals have limited statutory conscience protection. As a result, some areas of the healthcare profession are becoming increasingly inhospitable for those with certain deeply-held moral, philosophical or religious views. Not only is this discriminatory, it could also mean healthcare professions will become increasingly less diverse, inclusive, and representative of the views of the general population.
An Inquiry in 2016 found that some doctors and nurses face discrimination in the workplace due to their conscientious objection to practices that they believe end a human life.
The conscience rights of midwives were also undermined by a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which held that the conscience provision in the Abortion Act 1967 did not cover aspects of their employment.
A recent ComRes poll found that a majority of the public oppose forcing doctors to participate in abortion procedures against their will if they want to remain in their profession.
The Free Conscience campaign is calling on the public to visit their website (www.freeconscience.org.uk) where they can write to their MP, asking them to support the Bill.
Baroness O’Loan said:
“The reasonable accommodation of conscientious objection is a matter both of liberty and equality: of individual freedom and social inclusion. That is why I believe this is important and timely legislation. I am very happy that many members wished to contribute to the Second Reading debate. The Conscientious Objection Bill’s provisions deserve support from all parts of society, and from all sides of the Lords and the Commons. In passing it we will be able to engage in the well overdue restoration of an important medical freedom”.
Baroness Cox, former Vice-Chair of the Royal College of Nurses, said:
“For the sake of those going into the medical professions, for the sake of the patients they will serve, for the sake of the integrity of medical professionals and therefore medicine itself, I think ensuring that conscientious objection is given proper protection in law is a truly important reform that ought to be made, and for that reason I am delighted this Bill has been proposed”.
Baroness Eaton said:
“If we care about conscience in society, and particularly in medicine, then we should maintain a framing of our laws that allows for as much liberality as is sensibly feasible in conscientious objection when it comes to the perceived ending of human life. This Bill achieves that very thing, and for that reason I am delighted it has been introduced, and passionately support it.”.
Mary Doogan, one of the two midwives in the Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan & Anor case, and spokesperson for the www.freeconscience.org.uk campaign said:
“I am very glad to see that there is finally Parliamentary action taking place to restore the conscience rights of those who work tirelessly day in and day out to serve and care for others. As medical professionals, we owe patients not only our efforts but also our best moral judgement, and this Bill would allow us once again to practise with the greatest integrity. I fully support this important legislation and commend it to Parliament and the wider public”.
Dr. Mary Neal, leading conscience expert, senior lecturer at Strathclyde University and spokesperson for the www.freeconscience.org.uk campaign said:
“There is a pressing need for statutory conscience rights which actually protect those who need protection. The current law fails to do this, so this Bill is a necessary and timely step. I am heartened to see our legislators turning their attention to this issue, and I welcome this Bill as a necessary and timely step.
- For more information on the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activites) Bill and the Free Conscience campaign please visit freeconscience.org.uk.
- Video footage of the speeches from the debate are available here: gl/p6DS3U
- To arrange a media interview with Baroness O’Loan, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To arrange a media interview with Mary Doogan or Dr Mary Neal, please contact email@example.com
Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill [HL]
2.08 pm: Friday 26th January 2018
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady O’Loan on bringing this timely Bill to your Lordships’ House and on her eloquent and persuasive introductory remarks.
My unremunerated interests linked to various charities which work on these issues are declared in the register. I served as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group’s inquiry into freedom of conscience in abortion provision, which has been referred to during the course of this debate. The inquiry was admirably chaired by the Member of Parliament for Congleton, Fiona Bruce.
On Wednesday this week, I met Mary Doogan, one of the two midwives referred to by my noble friend and by the noble and learned Lord and others. The call of the midwife is an incredibly high calling. It is a call to bring new life into the world. To tell such women that they must facilitate the taking of the lives of babies in the womb or lose their jobs is not the hallmark of a liberal or tolerant society.
In the 18th century, the renowned German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, understood conscience as,
“an internal court in man”.
It is a core premise that conscience acts as an external constraint on human behaviour. Whether it is inspired by religious or secular belief is largely irrelevant.
Conscience is not founded on whim or personal preference; rather, it provides meaningful conviction that allows people to structure their own ethical identity and exercise their judgment. It was in accordance with Kant’s dictum that the framers of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written as the world emerged from the horrors of the Second World War, understood conscience. Conscience features prominently in the document, with the very first article recognising that:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience”.
Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights explicitly guarantee the right to freedom of conscience for all, and it has been recognised in every major human rights treaty since then. It was also recognised in another place and here during the debates in 1967 that formed the Abortion Act.
It was David Steel, now the noble Lord, Lord Steel, who told the House of Commons:
“The Bill imposes no obligation on anyone to participate in an operation”,
“The Clause also gives nurses and hospital employees a clear right to opt out”.—[Official Report, Commons, 13/7/67; col. 1318.]
The case of Mary Doogan shows how that assurance, which was given in sincerity and in the genuine belief that it would be implemented, has at the very least been diluted and watered down.
While conscientious objection was specifically enshrined in Section 4 of the Act, in practice the report that we undertook over the last two years found that medical professionals are far too dependent on the individual attitudes and discretion of their personal line managers or colleagues.
During the inquiry, evidence from the British Medical Association confirmed that some doctors had complained of being harassed and discriminated against specifically because of their conscientious objection to abortion. The inquiry also heard evidence on how career progression opportunities—a point that the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, with so much experience in this field, made during his speech earlier today—particularly in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, had been limited for those wanting to exercise their conscience.
I was particularly struck by a piece of evidence from one of the country’s leading paediatricians, Professor John Wyatt. He told us:
“Over the last century there have been many startling and egregious cases in which the core moral commitments of medicine have been corrupted and violated because of state coercion exercised on physicians”.
The vast majority of evidence that we received accorded with what Professor Wyatt said to us and recognised the importance of conscience as a key part of what it means to live as a free and fulfilled individual in a diverse and democratic society.
My noble friend Lord Rowe-Beddoe referred to Dr Mary Neal, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Strathclyde. I met her earlier this week too. In her written evidence, she said:
“We should not expect someone who believes abortion to be seriously morally wrong to be willing to participate in it in any capacity, and conscience provisions should be drafted and interpreted so as to protect health care practitioners against any such expectations”.
At its core, the Bill is about the minority’s right to dissent from mainstream opinion and to resist compelled action. It prevents the abuse of a dominant position and is deeply concerned with the right of individual liberty.
Most of the arguments against the Bill that have been advanced during today’s debate simply do not stand up to scrutiny.
The Abortion Act already limits the scope of conscientious objection. If it were working in such a pernicious way as some have described in preventing people from participating in abortions, it really would not enable one abortion to take place every three minutes in this country, 20 every hour—that is, over 8 million since the passage of the legislation. So I do not believe that argument stacks up.
However, the state has a duty to safeguard the conscience of individual professionals, as well as providing an effective healthcare service. The denial of conscience is an attribute, indeed the hallmark, of an illiberal society because it is an act of coercion.
A doctor, nurse or midwife is not a functionary or an automaton; as the father of a young doctor, I am acutely conscious of the high calling of a healer.
Two and a half thousand years ago Hippocrates, the father of medicine, enunciated a revolutionary devotion to the preservation of human life. Here I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Richardson: we are not compelled to go to heroic lengths to keep someone alive who would otherwise die. That is not at the core of palliative medicine, and her heartbreaking story is an example of bad medical practice. However, nor should we tell doctors that they have to give lethal injections to take life.
My noble friend’s Bill is consistent with the tradition of Hippocrates, who said, in a fundamental move away from more primitive medical traditions, that there would be prohibitions on abortion and euthanasia. He refused to accommodate those who believed that “care” and “kill” could be used as synonyms. Nor does my noble friend, and that is why I hope her Bill will receive a Second Reading in your Lordships’ House today.
Fourteen speeches were made in favour of the Bill and ten were opposed. It was given a Second Reading and will now proceed to Committee of the whole House. For the full debate and Lady O’Loan’s introductory speech go to:
Cross Community Meeting In Belfast Unites To Protect The Unborn Child
At a meeting held on January 25th in Belfast, David Alton, Lord Alton of Liverpool, said that 100,000 people- 5% of Northern Ireland’s population – are alive today because abortion is only permitted in life threatening circumstances. By contrast he said that in England a baby is aborted every three minutes.
The meeting, held in Belfast’s St.Brides, drew a capacity audience from across the political and religious spectrum.
During the meeting David Alton also set out his support for the Bill which was being introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Nuala O’Loan.
The Bil seeks to protect the conscience rights of midwives and other health workers who do not wish to be complicit in ending the lives of babies in the womb.
The Crossbench Peer returned to Westminster to speak in favour of the Bill which was opposed from the Labour and Liberal Democrat Front Benches.
Other Peers spoke in favour of its provisions and it was given a Second Reading – although its opponents vowed to vote it down at later stages.
Lord Alton said that “midwifery is a high calling. That call should not cost them their jobs when they refuse to facilitate the ending of the lives of the unborn. The sacking of two Glasgow midwives was coercive and deeply illiberal and Lady O’Loan’s Bill would stop such things happening again.”