Young people and porn

Anti-pornPope Paul VI predicted in Humanae vitae, “that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires.” This prediction might have seemed far-fetched in 1968 when the encyclical was released, but we now have ample evidence that it was completely correct.

Two Dunedin university students have been in the news over their attitudes to women and their bodies. One thinks that university students should have the right to access pornography through the University of Otago computer network. He says it doesn’t make sense ‘to have the university interfering with what you are doing in your private time.’ This is a very common appeal to personal autonomy. However, the internet connection isn’t their own. It’s the University’s connection, which is available to many students at their halls of residence.

The University doesn’t just filter pornography, it filters file sharing sites too. It provides the connection to help the students in their studies. It’s pretty obvious that pornography isn’t going to help a student. I’ve heard of marriages destroyed by pornography, and family homes that have had to be sold to pay for online pornography debts. Filtering of internet content isn’t unusual in New Zealand. The connections of 75% of the population are filtered for child pornography.

The second student has been in the media over his private Facebook page with featured explicit pictures of local women, posted without their knowledge or permission. The initial response of the police was, “These kinds of sites are not necessarily unlawful, but we do appreciate that they can cause significant upset and social harm.”  Now the police are now encouraging victims to contact them. The University has come out strongly against the now removed page, and is taking disciplinary action.

The images on the Facebook page were only possible because these pictures are being taken and shared with boyfriends. Here the boyfriend seem to think that they have a right to these explicit pictures, or are pressuring their girlfriends into supplying them. The recent celebrity phone hacking scandal has shown how common it is for young women to share ‘intimate’ photos with their boyfriends. Is it coercion, fear of losing boyfriends, or the women buying into the lie that their body is just another commodity that they can use to get what they want? Whatever it is, it’s the boyfriend’s lack of reverence that is driving it. The celebrity, Jennifer Lawrence made the comment about stolen explicit photos she took for her boyfriend, “and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you”.

Another recent trend is ‘upskirt’ photography. Men use hidden cameras at low level to take ‘upskirt’ photos of women in public places. Fortunately New Zealand courts have been prosecuting perpetrators. This is in contrast to a recent Texas legal decision that has decided that this form of photography is a constitutional right. This is similar to the Dunedin students claim that he has a right to pornography. Obviously the Texas court thinks freedom in photography is much more important than the rights of those being photographed.

This is in contrast to a recent French decision on a young man who photographed not women, but Paris landmarks, from a camera on a flying ‘drone’.

He was convicted.

Obviously our society has decided that New Zealand and Texan women are worth a lot less than the photos of French monuments.

Jennifer Lawrence calls the distribution of her photos a “sex crime”. Before contraceptives were accepted, everyone would have agreed with her.

National Council of Women choose not to protect women and children by passing abortion remit

Pregnant womanOver the weekend the National Council of Women (NCW) passed a remit which called for the government to review New Zealand’s abortion laws ensuring that a “woman’s right to choose” was protected.

An umbrella organisation, the NCW has a variety of organisations affiliated to them.  These include (but not limited to):

• ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ)
• Girl’s Brigade New Zealand
• Girl Guiding New Zealand
• Family Planning (affiliated to International Planned Parenthood Federation)
• NZ College of Midwives
• NZ Nurses Organisation
• NZ Playcentre Federation
• NZ Post-primary Teachers’ Association
• Royal NZ Plunket Society

There are also a number of faith based organisations affiliated to the NCW including The Salavation Army, the Association of Anglican Women, the Association of Presbyterian Women and the Catholic Women’s League.

It is known that the decision to accept the remit was not unanimous.

The Catholic Women’s League opposed the remit, speaking very strongly about the matter at the Conference.

In February this year, Ethne Wyndham-Smith, the Social Concerns co-ordinator presented a report to their Board stating her concerns over the “quiet but very forceful push for decrininalisation of abortion in this country, particularly from the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRANZ)”.

It was also noted that the NCW publication, Circular, had published articles that were pro-abortion.  It seemed that the power’s that be wished to silence the Catholic’s Women’s League on this issue and after some pressure, a letter from the League was finally published.

The Catholic Women’s League has been very supportive of the work of Family Life International NZ over the years.  We know that there are many who are very upset over the weekend’s developments.

It is clear that ALRANZ, who gloated in a press release about the NCW’s support for the remit, is behind this push.  They, and most likely Family Planning, have used the NCW to push their own agenda to liberalise New Zealand’s abortion laws.

It will be interesting to see which other groups have chosen not to protect women and their preborn children and which have stood on the side of life.

The following is Family Life International’s press release on this issue:

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN CHOOSE NOT TO PROTECT WOMEN AND CHILDREN BY PASSING ABORTION REMIT

An organisation that works with pregnant women who are facing unplanned pregnancies is concerned that the National Council of Women passed a remit over the weekend to encourage the government to review New Zealand’s abortion law ensuring a “woman’s right to choose.”

Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centres serve women all over the country who are pregnant and feel that abortion is the only solution to their current situation.  With friendly support and practical assistance many of these women realise that abortion isn’t the answer and they choose life for their preborn child.

The Centres also offer post-abortion support for those who are grieving and who seek healing after abortion.

“We see many women for whom abortion was not the simple solution” says Dame Colleen Bayer, the National Director of the Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centres and its parent organisation Family Life International NZ.

“These women grieve for their lost child and for some there are significant ongoing problems with alcohol and drug abuse and suicidal behaviour.”

Physical complications can arise from the abortion procedure itself.  Information obtained from Statistics New Zealand shows that 67 women suffered significant complications after abortion in the year ended December 2013.  Of those 19 suffere a haemorrhage.

“The National Council of Women has failed to care for women by passing this remit on greater accessibility of abortion.”

Not all organisations voted in favour of the remit and Dame Bayer wanted to acknowledge and thank those member organisations of the National Council of Women who voted against liberalising abortion laws.

“The National Council of Women has chosen not to protect women and children by passing this remit” said Bayer. “Instead they have chosen to push for a procedure that ultimately kills an innocent child and harms women.”

Family Life International NZ runs Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, serving pregnant women throughout New Zealand.  Women facing an unexpected pregnancy who wish to discuss all their options can call 0800 367 5433.

Women who have experienced an abortion and seek healing can call 0800 111 811.

ENDS

A true pastoral response: teaching the truth in love without fear

Family at the foot of the crossAt a recent press conference for the Synod on the Family it was announced that one presenter, who was not to be named, had proposed that “language such as ‘living in sin’, ‘intrinsically disordered’, or ‘contraceptive mentality’ are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to Christ and the Church.”

That may have an element of truth in it.  People do not like to hear that they are living a sinful life and that their souls are in danger of eternal death and so they stay away or their hearts become hardened.  But it is not the language that is the problem.  This language is speaking the truth with love for the individual created in the image and likeness of God, and who is made for heaven.

The problem lies in the attitude of those who wish to “bend the rules” as it were to “pastorally” embrace those who, because of their personal situations and experiences, feel unwelcomed by the Church.

So much of the discussion around this Synod on the Family has been around the “hardship” people face whose lives, for whatever reason, do not reflect the teaching of the Church on life, love, marriage and family.  It is argued that the Church must allow these people full participation in the Sacraments because that would be truly compassionate and merciful.

But true compassion and mercy stems from concern for the eternal salvation of a person’s soul.

A feeling is just that, a feeling.  It may not be a true reflection of reality at all.

All are welcomed into the Church.  All of us are sinners.  Each one of us must daily choose to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  When we fall we make a firm decision to not fall into the same sinfulness again and we seek reconciliation with our God through the Sacrament of Penance.

A real pastoral response does not push aside the sins as irrelevant, nor does it seek to hide the language of truth in order to make individuals feel better about their choices in life.  Instead, a real pastoral response teaches the flock, explaining carefully the reasons why the teachings exist and then assists people to live their lives faithfully through appropriate practical measures.

Those who defend the Church’s teaching do so, with a great understanding of the trials faced by families and individuals in today’s culture. They have a deep love of Christ and his people.  They have a zeal for the eternal happiness of souls.  Like a good parent who loves their child, they realise that rules exist to protect and to ultimately lead one into the Truth.  Their response is one of true compassion and mercy.

The Saints knew that the goal of heaven could not be won by taking the easy road.  They knew that a true Christian must live sacrificial love.  They inspire us to do the same.  Each one of us is called to sainthood.

St Thomas More was martyred for his stand against Henry VIII’s refusal to accept the Church’s teaching on marriage and divorce.  He defended with all his might the truth of the Catholic Church while Henry changed the rules to suit his own desires and whims, ultimately forming his own church.

St Gianna Beretta Molla knew about sacrificial love.  She gave her life in order that her preborn child may live.

St John Paul II understood the great value of suffering, of giving oneself totally and entering into Calvary.  He taught that to love is to be gift to one another.

St John Paul II’s legacy was also one where many, many young people, encouraged by his words, chose to pick up their cross and follow Jesus daily despite the hardships and difficulties.  These young people are now the families of today who are faithfully living their married lives, opening their hearts and lives to children, living the Gospel of Life.  Sometimes they are seen as fundamentalists or self-righteous when they seek the support they need to live out their vocation faithfully or when they actively search for Pastors who will teach them and their children the Catholic faith without excuses.

A true pastoral response teaches the truth in love without fear.

Great witnesses of the faith are born through solid, truthful formation.

The world needs Christ.  We must not be afraid to love sacrificially, to teach the beauty of God’s plan for love and life and family.  We must know that God’s grace is sufficient and that real mercy can be obtained.  We must not be afraid, as St John Paul II said “to go out on the streets and public places.”

As we serve with love, as we live love, as we teach the truth in love, then we will draw people back into the loving arms of the Church our Mother.

New Zealand’s first “saviour sibling”

For the first time in New Zealand a family has been granted permission to carry a baby to term which has been grown with the specific intention of saving an older sick sibling.

Permission for such procedures must be granted by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART).  None has been granted for this purpose previously.

The embryo was chosen for implantation after Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) with Human Leucocyte Antigen Tissue Typing (HLA) revealed a tissue match with the sibling who has sickle cell anaemia.

According to the Sunday Star Times, the mother is currently 13 weeks pregnant.  When the baby is born, stem cells from the umbilical cord will be transplanted into the sick child.  It is hoped the stem cells will be a cure.

Several embryos must be created in the laboratory (IVF) in order for PGD to take place.  On day 3 or 5 of embryo development one or two cells are removed from each embryo and screened.  Those that are not a tissue match are often discarded.  Some may be frozen.

New Guidelines for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis with Human Leucocyte Antigen Tissue Typing were published on 18th August 2014, which make “saviour siblings” more likely.  Guidelines are produced by the Advisory Committee (ACART) whose role is to advise the Ethics Committee (ECART) on all reproductive technology procedures and research.

Under the Guidelines, preimplantation diagnosis coupled with tissue typing can only be undertaken when the resulting child will be the brother or sister of the child to be treated.  It is not legal for fertility clinics to use the screening to select the sex of the child.

There are so many ethical and moral concerns around the procedure of IVF to begin with.  The procedure separates the act of procreation from the marital union.  To then add the creation of many human beings in order to find one that will “save” a sibling adds further to the immorality of the procedure.

So-called “saviour siblings” are only valued because they can do something for an already born child. But those embryos which are not a tissue match are given no value at all by the parents and fertility clinic staff.  They are the bottom of the heap.  These unique individuals are perceived to have no value because apparently they have nothing to offer.  They are then discarded as if they were skin cells, not nascent human life.  If they are lucky their lives are suspended as they frozen for an indeterminate time.

All human life is sacred, and therefore must be treated with dignity and respect.

The best way to do this is to refrain from “playing God” in the first place.  Creating embryos in a petri dish allows the fertility doctor to decide who shall live and who shall have the chance to live.  This is a power that no person should ever have.

 

Stem Cells in Queenstown

Icsis

A recent news article reports that a regenerative medicine and research centre is planned for Queenstown. While the current therapies offered by those involved are all from adult stem cells, the involvement on Dr Samuel Wood from San Diego is troubling. He and his company, Stemagen, are known for human cloning to create human embryonic stem cells. Samuel Wood headed the team that created the first human clones. All 5 were clones of him, but they were only allowed to develop to the blastocyst stage before they were destroyed.

The centre planned for Queenstown will be using existing stem cell therapies. These are based on the patient’s own adult stem cells. These can be used without fear of the patient rejecting the cells, as sometimes happens with organ transplants. But they are also planning to do research, and that is where the association with Dr Wood is worrying.

Dr Wood’s company continues to research human cloning and human embryonic stem cells from those clones. But he depends on human oocytes (eggs) to generate his clones; and it’s proved difficult to find egg donors. New Zealand represents a potential source of egg donors; but while it might be legal, it’s currently not legal to pay donors here. This would make it difficult although not impossible to do his research. Although that might soon change, the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology have suggested that the “Compensation levels” for gamete (sperm and egg) donors should be increased.

This is a very concerning development. Egg donation is a highly medicated and invasive process that exposes the donor to significant risks. Queenstown attracts young people because of the adventure sports in the area. The wages aren’t that good and the cost of living in Queenstown is high. It would be disturbing if the Ministry of health allowed a situation where young women in New Zealand could be put at risk of permanent health problems for a short term financial gain.

We shouldn’t allow compensation for egg donation in New Zealand, and we certainly do not want to become the embryonic stem cell capital of the Pacific.

However, the proposed regenerative medicine centre for Queenstown does show the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells in medicine. Embryonic stem cell therapy remains a dream. But adult stem cells are being used in medicine right now. The research money that has gone into using embryonic stem cells to cure Parkinson’s disease and repair spinal cord injuries hasn’t cured anyone. Worse still, embryonic research has taken money from other research programs which were much closer to human trials.

But the real toll of embryonic stem cell treatment is the human toll. Women are reduced to donors, at risk to themselves. And the embryos created as treated as biological research material that can be destroyed to generate the hope of a cure. Hardly the way to treat the youngest and most defenceless humans.

Another study showing abortion and breast cancer link

breast cancer ribbonYet another study has been released from India which shows that there is a very strong link between abortion and breast cancer.

In an article written by Steven Mosher from the Population Research Institute, the results from 12 studies undertaken in India are shown.  All 12 studies show an increased risk for developing breast cancer in women who have had abortion.

The average “odds ratio” of developing breast cancer in each of the studies was at least 1.  But the average “odds ratio” for all 12 studies came out at 5.54.  Mosher explains that this means a woman has “a 554% increased risk of developing breast cancer” if she has had an induced abortion.

This is shocking news!

Mosher points out that India is a great place to do this sort of study as the women “marry early, do not use the pill, have multiple pregnancies, and breastfeed their babies.  In other words, all of the other major risk factors for breast cancer are … absent.”

In the West, it is hard to pinpoint the abortion breast cancer link when so many other risk factors are present.

It is time that abortion advocates put aside their rhetoric of “choice” and really look at the evidence that women are at risk of developing breast cancer after an induced abortion.  The pro-abortion ideology of “choice” and “rights” should not cloud the truth that women are being put at unnecessary risk of developing this cancer that robs families of wives, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts.

 

Read Steven Mosher’s article Out of India comes yet more evidence that abortion causes breast cancer.

Maryan Street fails to make it back into Parliament

Maryan StreetLabour candidate, Maryan Street, who is a staunch euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate, has failed to make it back into Parliament after the general election on Saturday.

Street, who has been an MP since 2005, had placed the End of Life Choice Bill into the Member’s Ballot in July 2012.

Late last year, Street came under pressure from her party to remove the Bill as it was deemed too controversial a subject to be debating in an election year.

Street withdrew the Bill from the Ballot, vowing to reintroduce it after the election.  However, once again she failed to win the electorate seat of Nelson.  Her position on Labour’s List should have seen her re-enter Parliament for another term, but their support has deteriorated to its lowest since 1922 and they did not gain enough seats for Street to be selected.

Considered by many to be filled with loopholes, the End of Life Choice Bill, if passed, would have legalised physician assisted suicide for those who were suffering from an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition” who were experiencing “unbearable” pain.

Doctors who object to euthanasia and assisted suicide would have been obliged to refer patients to other practitioners who could carry out their wishes.

Most concerning to those against the Bill was the clause granting immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person acting in good faith who failed through act or omission to follow the law.

There are still 300,000 special votes to be counted which could potentially change the situation. However, it is unlikely that Labour will gain another seat, bringing Street back into Parliament.

The possibility that another MP will take up the cause cannot be ruled out.