The Wrong of rights

Teenagers are often accused of thinking that the world revolves around them. This phase usually passes especially after heading out into the ‘real world’ and discovering that they are but a ‘cog’ in the enormous kaleidoscope of life.

We observe that the unspoken catch-phrase “It’s about me” is anything but limited to teens. Indeed, many adults proclaim this mantra or similar, particularly in the sexual sphere.

It never ceases to amaze at the incessant trumpeting “It’s my right” and directly linked to this, “It’s my body, my choice”, slogans which have been internalised and are hardly ever questioned today. These slogans are certainly reflective of a culture that has embraced individualism, where the ‘right’ of the individual is said to be paramount.

As part of our human condition, it is self-evident that selfishness occupies a central aspect. That is why as parents, we teach our kids to think of others, to give or simply to let go. In other words, to share. Many of us recall quite vividly, our parents repeating the phrases, “there are others worse off than you in the world” or the old favourite which invariably brings a smile to your face; “finish your food, there are people starving in Africa”. When we observe our kids or others in society giving or simply thinking of others, we feel a degree of satisfaction, a sense of warmth. We feel good. So as selfishness is looked upon negatively, giving and thoughtfulness has the opposite effect.

How is it then that many societies have retreated into an introspective mentality? One that exalts selfishness and worse, proclaims it a right!

This “rights revolution” according to Marguerite Peeters has been and still is the “main weapon used in the west to deconstruct human, cultural and religious tradition”. Under the guise of this self-proclaimed “rights”, societies have been transformed by contraception, abortion and pornography, and other practices which were once illegal, and sometimes subject to imprisonment. These practices are inward looking with the   focus largely on the individual and their self-satisfaction. Hence the expression, “It’s my right”, which is in essence, a sub-category within the broader, ‘right to choose’.

But what about the right to life? Many are opposed to capital punishment on the basis that it is inhumane, cruel or simply barbaric. Why then does this acknowledged right not extend to the un-deniability of life within the womb? How has the mothers legalized ‘right’ to abortion taken precedence over the child’s right to life?After all, it was unthinkable following World War II.

Today, a wedge has been solidly driven between a mother and her unborn child, so much so that the child is viewed as a threat. And this wedge has a name. It is called a right. But this right is wrong and we know it. We know it because instinctively, we understand that human rights are meant to uphold life and the dignity of the individual. The UN thinks so too, categorically stipulating “appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. Thus, any ‘right’ that leads to the taking of a child’s life, can never be right. In fact, it is wrong.

I would suggest then, that ideology, rather than care about women or children, as being the key driver behind the abortion industry. The “rights revolution” has made inroads to normalising what was unthinkable in the not too distant past.

Money is the primary motive.

Living and dying with faith, hope and love

Divine MercyYesterday I attended the Requiem Mass for a man whose life profoundly affected mine – Dr Peter Scanlon.

It was a beautiful Requiem – solemn, a little bit joyful at times and a reminder that our eyes must always be fixed upon God in this life, for it is God who is our final end.

I realised that this is just how Dr Scanlon would have planned  it – teaching those present, even in his death.

Because the Dr Scanlon I knew was a teacher.  His enthusiasm for medicine and the dignity of the human person was palpable.  He would take the time to explain anything asked of him.  He was always willing to give of his time to speak up for the unborn and the devastating effects contraceptives have.  One knew that if you approached Dr Scanlon with a question, you would get a well considered and truthful answer.

It is clear to me, that for Dr Scanlon, every single person mattered.  From the youngest to the eldest, with his gentle spirit, he would make time for everyone.  I am sure he saw in each the face of God.

There are three things that I have learnt from Dr Scanlon over the years:

Courage to speak up in the face of great injustice.  Courage to speak the truth in love.  Courage to correct with humility.  Courage to suffer with a deep trust and abandonment to God and His will.

To embrace the cross.
Suffering is something not to be afraid of.  In suffering we enter into the very heart of Jesus.  When I first learnt of Dr Scanlon’s illness I knew immediately that he would be offering his suffering up.  Yesterday I learnt that his great suffering was for the medical profession and for Catholic priests.  Of course!

Faith, Hope and Love
Okay, so that is three things, but they go together!  Dr Scanlon, in his life and in his death, has taught me to constantly have faith in God and His perfect plan; to hope in perfect trust; and to love God above all else.  With these virtues in place it is easy to love our neighbour.

I have been privileged to know this great man.  It has been an honour to pray for him, his beautiful wife Maria and his seven amazing children over these months.  I have been profoundly affected, as have many others by Dr Scanlon’s life and faith.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.

“This kingdom free of care and filled with joy, crowded with citizens of the Old and New turned all its love and vision to one goal.  O great delight that glittered for their view.”
~ Dante, Paradiso, 31. 25-28




Life affirming ultrasound

Ultrasound PhotoI recently had the experience of sitting in on a 19 week pregnancy scan. For my wife and I it was the first chance to see our new child and as such, we were both looking forward to it.

For many couples, the first pregnancy ultrasound is the first bonding experience they have with their new child.  Before the days of ultrasound, a mother’s first bonding to the new baby was started when she first felt the baby moving, but increasingly, the ultrasound is the first experience that mothers and fathers have with their new child.  This is recognised by medical researchers. It’s also probably been a factor in society’s increasing recognition of the humanity of the pre born child.

Forming this relationship between parents and the child is important. The strength of the bond will affect many outcomes for the child, particularly for the child’s education.

I have personally found a great deal of difference between sonographers.  I’ve had the privilege of seeing Shari Richard at work, and seen her infectious enthusiasm for the unborn child, and the positive effect it has on the child’s parents.  Few sonographers can match her enthusiasm.  I’ve seen other sonographers at work, including one working on me, although she wasn’t going to find a baby and wasn’t looking for one!  They differ greatly in the way they interact with parents about their new baby.  The most recent sonographer we had always referred to our child as ‘baby’, e.g. “This is babies head” etc.

But this isn’t always the case.  We had a scan in a previous pregnancy when the sonographer became very quiet.  Later we found out the reason – she had found a medical problem with our child.  Although it was potentially very serious, a couple of surgeries fixed the problem before it could do any serious damage, and our child now enjoys excellent health.

But why the difference in the response of the sonographer?  Our baby didn’t stop being our baby because he had a medical problem. We certainly didn’t love him any less.

But sonographers and other medical professional are influenced by abortion.  Abortion is considered a solution to many birth defects, so it’s natural for sonographers to moderate their enthusiasm for the baby during scans.

But this could affect the start of the formation of the bond between baby and parents. Crisis Pregnancy Centres have known for a long time the benefit of an expectant mother seeing her baby by ultrasound.  It encourages the bond to form between mother and child.  But ultrasound can be used in a way that doesn’t encourage this bonding.  Clinic profit motives and abortion quotas can affect the way ultrasound results are presented and interpreted.  A recent study of 15 500 women attending Planned Parenthood abortion clinics showed that viewing ultrasound images had very little effect on the mothers decision to abort her child.  It’s hard to imagine the ultrasound technicians in these abortion clinics wanted to present the humanity of the pre-born child and facilitate bonding between mother and child.

Similarly, using ultrasound as a search and destroy mission to eliminate less than perfect is not a good way to encourage bonding. It’s important for the sonographer to show the beauty and humanity of the pre-born child.  This is the start of a relationship that will last a lifetime.  It’s the most important relationship, and it deserves a good start.  Children do better when there is good bonding with their parents.  It’s here that the sensitivity to the minority that have abortions, affects the rest of us – and our children.

It is one of the ways that abortion affects us all.


Abortion and pre abortion visits

When the topic of liberalising abortion comes up, as it has recently, invariably there is talk about “increasing access” and reducing the number of visits required before a woman can have an abortion.

New Zealand law stipulates that the woman seeking an abortion must see two certifying consultants. Sometimes this can happen in one visit. Beyond this the law doesn’t specify anything about visits and appointments, but there is the need for a few more visits and procedures. The Abortion Supervisory Committee does have medical recommendations, but the extra visits and procedures are there more for medical reasons than legal.

Abortion providers generally want some basic tests done, and some information about when the woman became pregnant. This is important because different abortion procedures can only be used in some stages of pregnancy.

They want to know if there is an active sexually transmitted infection, as this can cause complications including chronic pelvic pain, infertility and increase risk of future ectopic pregnancy. One study of women presenting for an abortion found chlamydia at a rate of nearly 19% in one population group. Clearly it’s important to test and wait for the results before risking invasive surgery and all the risks of infection that can result.

One requirement that is very controversial overseas is ultrasound. There are some good reasons why it’s appropriate to do an ultrasound before an abortion. The first reason is to confirm that it’s a normal pregnancy, and not an ectopic or molar pregnancy. The recent case of “Dr N” highlights the risks or forgoing the ultrasound. She facilitated several of her patients to have medical abortions by providing the medication outside New Zealand’s current legal framework. One of these women had an ectopic pregnancy, which was not ended by the medical abortion. Later this patient was admitted to hospital for treatment due to a ruptured fallopian tube. Her outcome could have been much worse.

Ultrasound can confirm if the unborn child is healthy likely to survive to birth. There is an appreciable miscarriage rate in early pregnancy, and sometimes an ultrasound can predict a miscarriage before it happens. Clearly in these cases there is no need for the woman to be exposed to the additional trauma of an abortion. I’ve also heard that many women who have made up their mind to have an abortion, and then cry when they hear the news that their child has died, or will soon die.

An increasingly important feature of ultrasound is the ability to accurately estimate the age of the preborn baby. Many women are using forms of contraception that disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, which can make dating an unexpected pregnancy more difficult. The gestational age of the child is important information for abortion providers, as different methods of abortion are used as the gestational age of the child increases.

Blood tests are normally required. These indicate the health of the mother, and her rhesus blood group. If the mother is rhesus negative, and the baby is rhesus positive, after the abortion the mother may produce antibodies which could cause rhesus disease in her future babies. This can easily be prevented by an injection of ‘anti-D’ at the time of the abortion.

And then there is counselling. The Abortion Supervisory Committee strongly recommends counselling for all women wanting an abortion, both before and after abortion. This is universally optional, despite the growing evidence that abortion is harmful to a woman’s mental health.

It’s clear that the extra visits for a woman wanting an abortion in New Zealand are not because of some pro-life conspiracy, but are all justified on medical and evidence based grounds. They are certainly not hoops to be gotten through. They are there to protect the health of the woman and her future children.

But how much more could we protect women and children if we recognised the harm abortion does to them, and supported them in pregnancy and beyond? Then no unexpected pregnancy would be a crisis pregnancy, and every child could be born into a society which loves and affirms them.

NZ abortion figures drop again, but don’t forget the numbers are about real people

Pregnant and worried?Statistics New Zealand has today released the induced abortion figures for 2013, and the numbers are very welcome.

The recorded abortions have dropped for the sixth consecutive year to 14,073.  This is the lowest since 2007 when there were 18,382 abortions reported.

We believe that the increased number of Crisis Pregnancy Centres, homes for pregnant teens and other pregnancy help services in New Zealand over the last decade has contributed to the steady decline in reported abortions.

Women need to know that there is support for them to bring their baby to birth.  They see that we can support them no matter what their circumstances are and this gives them hope.  All of our team at Family Life International are honoured to serve pregnant women who may other wise have had no other choice but to turn to abortion.

Significantly, younger women are leading the way in the rejection of abortion.  Since 2007, when the number of teen abortions reached their highest in history, the number of 15 to 19 year olds having abortions has decreased by half!

This was the first year that the Tauranga Family Planning clinic was included in the stats, having begun offering medical abortions in early 2013.  We obtained further information from Statistics New Zealand, and discovered that this clinic reported 90 abortions.

While most hospitals decreased the number of abortions, some increased.  The following hospitals all had some increase in abortion numbers from 2012:

  • Middlemore reported 31 abortions - an increase of 10 since 2012;
  • Gisborne reported 145 abortions – an increase of 10 since 2012;
  • Taranaki Base reported 316 abortions – 272 abortions were reported in 2012 – an increase of 44;
  • Wairarapa reported 144 abortions – an increase of 20 from 2012;
  • Christchurch Women’s reported 95 abortions – up from 71 in 2012;
  • Lyndhurst reported 1592 – up from 1541 in 2012 – and the highest recorded number of abortions since 2010 when they reported 2097.
  • Southland Hospital reported 293 – 2013 was the first full year this hospital preformed abortions.

Unfortunately women aged 40 to 44 are having more abortions.  637 – up from 590 in 2012.  It is the highest number of abortions in this age bracket since 2010 when 655 were recorded.

We need to ask ourselves why women in their early 40′s increasingly feel unable to bring their pre-born child to birth.  What is it we can do to assist them in this, their greatest hour of need?

There were 73 abortions reported from 20 weeks up to 40 weeks (down from 92 in 2012).  11 were over 25 weeks (up from 8 in 2012).

Almost 10% of all abortions were medical (sometimes referred to as RU-486 abortions).  There were 1389 of these abortions, a definite and significant increase since 2012.

Nearly half (45%) of the women who had an abortion in 2013 were using some sort of ‘contraceptive’ at the time of becoming pregnant. This is a fact that proves abortion is a necessary back-up for those who have embraced a mentality that rejects the possibility of a new life.

Within all these statistics we must grapple with the fact that these numbers represent real people whose lives have been turned upside down by an unexpected pregnancy.  Some of these women will be hurting, some physically, some psychologically, all spiritually.  Many of these women will regret their abortion.  Some will be haunted for a long, long time.

While 14,073 is a better number than last year, it is still too big.  We must not forget that the number is attached to real persons, denied their intrinsic right to life.  These pre-born babies have been seen only as a “choice” by those whose responsibility and duty is to nurture and protect them.  They have been let down by a society which turns a blind eye to the horrors that would have us all weeping if we were to witness them in the flesh.

As a society we rightfully cry out for justice for the born babies and toddlers who are battered and killed.  When will we cry out for and protect the babies before they are born?

But we will be here, working to offer options and hope to women who find themselves in that place no-one wants to be.

We will also be there for the woman who has had an abortion and regrets her decision.  We do not judge.  We care.  We listen.  We offer a path to healing.

And we will cry out for justice for the pre-born babies, who are so very precious.

That number – 14,073 – represents too many real lives that will never see the light of day, and too many lives that will live to regret their decision.

Those who promote abortion in this country have a lot to account for.


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

To talk to someone after abortion please phone Project Rachel 0800 111 811 (New Zealand only).  Peace starts here.



Decriminalisation of what?


Decriminalising’ abortion is in the media again.  It’s not the first time it’s been in the news and it certainly will not be the last time.  This time it looks like it’s going to be an election issue, or at least there is an effort to make it an election issue.  What is being proposed this time is very familiar, and could have come from the wish list of any New Zealand pro-abortion lobby group.

The main proposal is to remove abortion from the Crimes Act.  There is also a desire to reduce the time and complication required before a woman has an abortion.  And there is a desire to keep the status quo for abortions after 20 weeks, (although pre-born children with fetal abnormalities post 20 weeks are targeted).  None of this will happen if abortion is removed from the Crimes Act, unless other legislation is changed too.  Most of the regulations for the two Certifying Consultants are not in the Crimes Act, they are in the Contraception Sterilisation, and Abortion (CSA) act 1977.  So removing abortion from Crimes Act would not streamline the consulting process. And no one has mentioned changing CSA.  Furthermore, the distinction between abortions before 20 weeks and after 20 weeks is in the Crimes Act.  So if abortion was simply removed from the Crimes Act, the likely result would be virtually abortion on demand for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy.

All of this is supposedly to benefit women having abortions and to protect them from the law.  But the Crimes Act specifically protects women from prosecution. It only has legal sanctions against doctors and others involved in preforming abortions.

So this raises the question, is removing abortion from the Crimes Act an attempt to benefit women or is it really a way to move abortion out of the public health system, and create a US style abortion industry with legal protection for doctors to exploit vulnerable women? There are some hints in the usual rhetoric of the recent policy announcement. The issue of consistency of access to abortion across New Zealand and especially in provincial areas is constantly brought up by the pro-abortion movement. People who live far away from major hospitals have a lot of issues accessing timely healthcare and paying for accommodation and travel. It’s big issue in maternity care but somehow abortion promoters forget to talk about that ‘women’s health’ issue.

Removing the oversight of the abortion referral process, and allowing more abortions to take place outside of a hospital setting is going to allow a US or Australian style for profit abortion industry to thrive in New Zealand. I don’t know if our politicians are aware of this, but I know the abortion promoters are. After all, Family Planning did bring in the US$523 616 paid CEO of the United States largest abortion provider to teach them how to bring a ‘reproductive rights’ movement into New Zealand.

And speaking of Cecile Richards, the line about ‘trusting women’ comes straight from her.  Richards’ ‘trust’ of vulnerable women has seen her organisation increase the numbers of abortions it performs during her leadership, as the total number of abortions in the US is declining.

I’ve never met a women at this Centre that I won’t trust. Abortion isn’t, and never has been about trust. Most of these women feel that they don’t have a choice. To say that they ‘trust’ women in crisis circumstances, but then to only offer abortion as a way out, is exploiting women.

It is pleasing to see there is talk of offering more assistance to pregnant women. But government agencies don’t have a great record of catering to the needs of people in crisis. From my own experience they are better at causing stress than they are in relieving it. I’m pleased to work for an organisation that provides practical help for people without them having to have a degree in paperwork. But helping isn’t always wanted by our politicians if they have political issues with us.

So removing abortion from the Crimes Act would seem to benefit doctors and business plans more than women. And removing certifying requirements would allow some of the worst excesses of the Australian and US abortion industry to happen here.

If we are going to change our laws on abortion, shouldn’t we change them to protect women and children, rather than to allow them to be exploited and killed?

The Edges of Life

Grandpa and baby

The edges of life are controversial. On one side there are the debates about contraception, abortion and in vitro fertilisation. At the end of life the debates are about euthanasia, organ transplantation, and its cousin, brain death.

Trauma surgeon Peter Rhee is rewriting the rules on brain death. Normally when we see this, it’s someone wanting to declare people dead sooner so their organs can be harvested for transplantation into other sick patients. Peter Rhee is taking the definition in the other direction.

While Dr Rhee’s name might not be that well known, some of his patients are. He was one of congresswoman Gabby Giffords doctors. Dr Rhee knows about death. He’s a trauma surgeon who has seen mass shooting patients in the United States. He’s also been to Iraq and Afghanistan to save the lives of soldiers, even going behind enemy lines to treat the injured. He’s even been selected as a personal surgeon to the president of the US on an overseas trip.

But it’s patients in the US that might be rewriting the rules on when death occurs. He’s part of a team that’s been experimenting on ‘suspended animation’, to save trauma patients. The team has permission to start human trials on trauma patients who have gone into heart failure and can’t be resuscitated by current techniques. The team will rapidly cool the patient’s body to 10°C (50°F), where metabolic activity slows almost to a stop. In this state, the heart is stopped, there is no breathing, and no detectable brain activity. This would be normally be considered clinical death. But the surgeons have 2 hours to repair their patient’s injuries before slowly warming them up and reviving them. If their prior work holds up in human trials, up to 90% of patients could survive the cooling and rewarming procedure itself.

And that 2 hours is time the surgeons wouldn’t normally have for life saving surgery. This technique will only work if they are able to apply it to the patient in the minutes after heart failure before brain damage starts to take place. Previous work has so far shown no brain damage or impaired function from the cooling and rewarming procedure. The team will be following their patients closely to see if this is also the case in the human trials.

Some of Rhee’s comments on the research and his clinical work are telling, “Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It’s frustrating to know there’s a solution”.

Dr Rhee is saying that the current definition of death is inadequate and often premature. We often see that definitions of life and death are based on what is convenient. Some organs can only be ‘harvested’ from a ‘dead’ person where there is a heartbeat. Some of these ‘dead’ people have woken on the operating table, moments before their organs were going to be harvested.

Definitions also chip away at the other end of life too. Many medical and legal organisations now define ‘established pregnancy’ as starting at implantation, not conception (fertilisation). Once pregnancy is defined at implantation, and abortion is defined as ending a pregnancy, then emergency ‘contraception’ doesn’t cause ‘abortions’. And if you jump through the same linguistic hoops, hormonal contraceptives don’t cause abortions either. Despite the words and definitions, human embryos are still being destroyed by so called ‘contraceptives’.

The extreme view of this is held by Australian ethicist Peter Singer, and Nobel prize winning molecular biologist James Watson, who have stated that new-born infants shouldn’t be declared alive straight after birth. These frightening ideas were put forward to allow new-borns to be left to die, or even directly killed. Pro-abortion organisations have even opposed regulations that protect the life of a child born alive after abortion.

Given these developments, we should applaud the efforts of scientist and doctors where they are true to their profession and work to save lives, especially when they are able to save the life that couldn’t previously be saved.