Welcoming the least in the world’s eyes and the most precious in God’s

I love my life!Recently, Dame Colleen Bayer, the Founder and National Director of Family Life International NZ, gave a presentation “Welcoming the least in the world’s eyes and the most precious in God’s,” at the Auckland Eucharistic Convention.

In her powerful talk, Colleen shared stories of welcoming all people, especially unborn children, who have disabilities – including those whose lives may be very short.

Family Life International NZ has a programme to help promote the acceptance and support of all people with disabilities, that programme is called Missionaries of Love.

Colleen and her husband Terry are the adoptive parents of three children with special needs, two are now adults.  They have spent many years providing support to parents and carers of children with special needs.

As the medical profession becomes more adept at detecting conditions such as Down syndrome and Spina Bifida prior to birth (sometimes getting it wrong), Colleen reminds us that God is calling us to love, really love.  That is, to uphold the dignity and right to life of each individual and to nurture, protect and love them for the days they are given on this earth.

 

Advertisements

Eugenic thought is alive and well in New Zealand

eugenic-marriageThe furore caused by Michael Law’s recent comments regarding eradicating Down syndrome should not surprise anyone.  Eugenic thought is alive and well in New Zealand, and has been for some time.

Laws, who is a Whanganui District Health Board Member, updated his Facebook status on December 8 to read

I think most women, having discovered they’re carrying a Downs Syndrome foetus, would abort. Dear Lord, very natural reaction. Incredibly though there are a group of DS activists (the parents of) who want to DENY this test to expectant mothers because they think it has the potential to eradicate Downs Syndrome. And I’m thinking: what a bloody fantastic achievement that would be. Next: multiple sclerosis.

Yes, Laws wants to eradicate people who have Down syndrome and all of those who don’t fit into his perfect little box of what a human being should achieve in life and how they should look and behave.  But that’s nothing new.

Don’t forget that Laws championed the Death with Dignity Bill in 1995, which failed to pass.

In Law’s world legal euthanasia would be ideal as all the “unfit” could be exterminated post birth.

The comments on Law’s Facebook page make for interesting reading.  Many are pro-abortion – especially when the unborn child is found to have Down syndrome or any other condition which ignites the flame of fear.

It seems that “choice” is what it all comes down to.

The “choice” of someone with power to take the life of someone with no power and no voice.

An idea that is at the heart of eugenics.

Every time the reproductive habits of beneficiaries comes under the spotlight, forced sterilisation and mandatory contraception are put forward as legitimate and very appropriate solutions by those who wish to see less children from the “unfit”.

The Government has gone some way to make that type of thinking policy.  Through WINZ, the additional costs incurred in accessing Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives such as Jadelle, Depo Provera and IUDs can be met for beneficiaries and their daughters aged 16 years or older.  These costs, controversially, include travel costs, thereby removing any perceived “barrier” to access for those who fit the criteria.

Tubal ligation is routinely offered to Polynesian women, who have poorer backgrounds.  The procedure is pushed on these women, some of whom decide not to tell their husband what they are about to do.  Tubal ligation is presented by midwives and doctors as necessary, and the mother, who is often feeling tired and overwhelmed will agree.  A mother who refuses tubal ligation will be asked repeatedly if the medical professionals believe it is in her best interests.

New Zealand’s antenatal screening programme is one of “search and destroy”.   Maternal scans, screening blood tests and amniocentesis all serve the purpose of allowing midwives and doctors the opportunity to offer termination when the unborn child has an “abnormality”.

Newborn babies with Spina bifida have been left to die.

Family Planning, who have such a large influence on “sexual health” policy in New Zealand are affiliates of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Their founder, Margaret Sanger was well known for her eugenic thought.  Birth control was Sanger’s method of choice for “cleansing” society of the “unfit”.  Her ideology still drives the organisation today.

No, nothing should surprise us about Michael Laws’ comments.  His loud, disrespectful and offensive comments are only expressing the thoughts of so many who have brought the eugenics line.

May we never forget where that thought led millions of people less than a century ago.

After-Birth abortion advocates finding new ways to desensitize the public

After-Birth Abortion advocates Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are up to new tricks.  Not content with just suggesting “that life with certain pathologies is not worth living” (their own words) and should therefore be killed after birth when the opportunity to kill them in-utero has been missed; they are now discussing how best to get their message across to, and accepted by the general public.

In a paper entitled “Bioethics and the New Media” , Giubilini and Minerva explained why it was necessary for bioethecists to communicate to “non-academics” their research in everyday language.  They recognized that “the political agenda in democratic countries is becoming increasingly concerned with regulation of biotechnologies, of medical practices and health-related issues which, in turn, have a deep impact on the life of people and on their choices.”

Secondly the author’s of the paper noted that

issues in bioethics deal with topics, such as life, death, the moral status of human beings (and many others) that touch upon people’s most profound and personal values. For this reason, very often ideas which go against traditional values are perceived with an immediate feeling of shock and an immediate impulse to rebut the proposal, prior to any rational, cold reflection. And the problem is that such reactions cannot be easily dismissed as a sign of irrationality of people who cannot fully appreciate the opportunities of new biotechnologies or the freedom and well-being that some medical options can promote.

Here Giubilini and Minerva recognize the natural law which is written on every person’s heart.  That law which helps us see the inherent dignity in each individual person.  That law which if not ignored, ensures that people live in service of each other and in the Truth.  Sadly, that natural law is too often ignored.  And bioethecists such as Giubilini and Minerva would like to see that natural law eradicated in people’s hearts by sugar-coating their eugenic and callous theories so as to see them come to fruition.  They explain this thinking by saying

it seems that it would be a deep violation of academic freedom if bioethicists were forced not to publish the results of their research in order to avoid causing a “yuck” reaction in the public. After all, many things that used to cause a “yuck” reaction just a few years ago (like in vitro fertilization) are now considered acceptable by many people. So, at least in some cases, the “yuck” reaction seems to disappear after a while, when people learn more about a certain practice or when they come to realize that it is useful.

So the proposed method of desensitizing public opinion is

to encourage and to facilitate the translation of the bioethics language into a less specialized language, and to put more effort into providing readers with an appropriate explanation of the context in which ideas are developed as well as the state of the art of the actual debate in bioethics.

When the so-called “specialized language” of bioethics is “translated” into everyday language, bioethecists then have the opportunity to mask their full intentions to the public.  They can choose to downplay things that people would find offensive or concerning and instead focus on the possibilities that they know the general public will find “useful”.

This is of particular concern to Mike Sullivan of Saving Downs.  Why?  Because Giubilini and Minerva promoted not so long ago infanticide of babies born with Down syndrome because they believe that people who have Down syndrome are inferior to the rest of us who are supposedly “normal”.  They used the term after-birth abortion.  A subtle change in language.  Infanticide would produce the “yuck” reaction in people.  Abortion, accepted by many in society as being a “women’s choice” and necessary, doesn’t produce quite the same “yuck” reaction.

Mike’s synopsis of Giubilini and Minerva’s proposals is telling.  He says what they are really getting at is:

That it should be permissible to kill new born babies who have Down syndrome.

Yep, that’s it. Giubilini and Minerva support killing babies with Down syndrome.

And there is a problem, because the non-academics don’t agree.

And there is another problem. The Down syndrome community isn’t lying down and been rolled over.

And we can’t be readily dismissed as being irrational.

And the solution? Giubilini and Minerva want to change the way they promote this wonderful opportunity that we were denied to kill our babies after they were born. Because we were denied the freedom and well-being that we would have had with this wonderful idea they want to promote.

When Giubilini, Minerva and all the other eugenicists have succeeded in convincing people that we must at all costs eliminate people with Down syndrome from our world, who will they move onto next?

Fighting to save the right to life of pre-born children who have Down syndrome

Two children one with Down syndrome  The fight to save the right to life of pre-born babies who have Down syndrome has been fought valiantly by Mike Sullivan of Saving Downs.  He works tirelessly to educate people of the eugenic nature of New Zealand’s pre-natal screening programme, explaining the reality that abortion is offered to, and accepted by many parents when there is a diagnosis of disability. This kind of screening, which has a “search and destroy” mentality,  leads to a change in society’s perception as to what type of babies it is acceptable to give birth to.  Pre-natal screening should always value the inherent value and dignity of the pre-born child.  It should always have the outcome of caring for both patients – mother and baby, ensuring a safe pregnancy, and offering treatment wherever needed in order to bring the pre-born child to birth.  Pre-natal screening should not lead to the death of the pre-born child.

Recently, a paper by Robert Cole and Gareth Jones was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal entitled, “Testing times, do new prenatal tests signal the end of Down syndrome?”  In the paper the authors write:

 “First, we value an ethic that stresses the importance of ‘doing the most good’. On these grounds we accept that in some cases, the perceived disadvantages resulting from a Down syndrome pregnancy (to child and family) may outweigh the perceived good from the child’s life.”

Cole and Jones make it quite clear that the value and dignity of the person who has Down syndrome is less than that of those who do not have Down syndrome.  Throughout their paper they attempt to justify New Zealand’s pre-natal screening programme which serves to search and destroy.

Pre-born babies are legally allowed to be aborted (up to 20 weeks gestation) in New Zealand because of diagnosed disability in-utero. We know that abortions for disability happen long after the 20 week allowance in law.  Saving Downs (as do Family Life International NZ), want to see this clause in the Crimes Act (1961) to be removed “that there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would be so physically or mentally abnormal as to be seriously handicapped”.  Family Life International NZ would love to see protections for all pre-born children be written into law.

Mike Sullivan was interviewed by Susan Wood on Q&A, Easter Sunday morning regarding this issue.  The Disability Commissioner, Paul Gibson was also interviewed.  The transcript is below (original text, including spelling errors kept).  Video for Mike Sullivan can be found here.  Video for Paul Gibson can be found here.

SAVING DOWNES’ SPOKESPERSON MIKE SULLIVAN AND OTAGO UNIVERSITY STUDENT ROBERT COLE INTERVIEWED BY SUSAN WOOD

MIKE Eugenics has always been concerned with the policy of reducing the prevalence and population of people deemed to be disadvantaged, so they’ve actually presented that argument in the paper.

SUSAN But I would perceive a disadvantage of a Down’s baby. One disadvantage I would perceive is that they may never live independently. Am I wrong?

MIKE Well, yes, I think you are. When we look at the history of Down’s syndrome in New Zealand and the shift away from institutionalisation to children being in our families and our communities, there’s been a revolution in their capabilities and achievements and-

SUSAN But you can’t be confident your 5-year-old will live independently at 50 or 40 or 30, can you? You don’t know that 100%.

MIKE Well, I don’t think any parent knows that about their child, so I think we need to challenge those underlying assumptions of seeing disability as something that’s a disadvantage when, in fact, it’s part of human diversity and dignity.

SUSAN The report, as it pains to point out, though, that people with Down’s report high satisfaction with their lives, they’ve got self-worth, they love their families and friends and that information should be passed on to medical professionals. That would seem to me the opposite of making the case for eugenics.

MIKE Well, absolutely, and that’s where there’s a disconnection in the paper, because on the one hand they’re acknowledging, you know, the inherent dignity of people with Down’s syndrome, but then they’ve presented-

SUSAN Aren’t they putting both sides, though? Aren’t they just putting- laying both sides out?

MIKE Well, I believe – you know, as an advocacy group for disabilities, I believe they’ve crossed a line, because the fundamental principle of human rights is that all members of the human family have dignity. And what they presented here is this argument that in the interests of the greater good, then these people, these beautiful children, who have Down’s syndrome may not be welcomed into our society. It runs counter to that principle.

SUSAN Your group wants screening to be only as advice, not for termination of Down’s. So who would choose that? You were saying you should choose if a woman should give birth to a Down’s baby?

MIKE Well, we’re saying that the application of those types of law should be without discrimination towards people with disabilities.

SUSAN But the disability’s in there, and it’s the woman’s choice. I mean, are you saying it should be your choice, it should be the government’s choice? Because surely the woman has a right to choose, a family.

MIKE Well, we’re saying that in terms of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities article 10, The Right to Life, that people with disabilities do have a right to life.

SUSAN But our law allows abortion on disabilities, and it allows women and families to choose. Are you saying that’s wrong? Are you saying you should be choosing or the government should be choosing?

MIKE Well, if we look back at how that law was established back in 1977, the argument was put forward that it would be unethical to have abortion on the grounds of social convenience, but it would be moral to enable abortion of disabilities. And the reasons they used for that was that the-

SUSAN But you don’t want abortions for disabilities, or not Down’s, do you?

MIKE Well, we want a level playing field, so we want one law that applies to all. We don’t want a distinction in law which says that-

SUSAN So you don’t- Let’s be really clear. It’s a really simple question. You do not want Down’s babies to be aborted? You do not want that to be allowed, correct?

MIKE We don’t want a distinction in the law that says that Down’s syndrome in itself is a basis for a termination of pregnancy.

SUSAN It’s a disability, though, and it comes under that wide-ranging disability.

MIKE Well, no, because it’s a contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. That article’s quite clear. It says that people with disabilities have a right to life, and that right to life-

SUSAN But a mother has a right to choose who she gives birth-

MIKE Well, if I can finish explaining that. So that article for right to life says that that has to be provided on an equal basis with all others. The situation we have in New Zealand is a law that makes a distinction. It provides a different level of protection solely on the basis of disability.

SUSAN So you want the law changed?

MIKE And that law is a discriminatory law.

SUSAN So you want that law changed?

MIKE Yes, we do.

SUSAN Very good. Joining us now, Rob Cole from Otago University, one of the authors of the report. Morning, Rob.

ROBERT Hi.

SUSAN Were you promoting eugenics in any way, shape or form with this paper?

ROB This is not a eugenics paper, Susan. What we’re talking about here is a screening programme – a screening programme which is currently occurring in New Zealand – and this is about a screening programme that promotes, like you said, a woman’s right to choose.

SUSAN But the woman’s right to choose – there are not numbers in this country, but on overseas evidence, 90% of women who find they are carrying a Down’s syndrome child will abort. So that will mean at some point fewer or maybe no Down’s babies.

ROB I don’t think that there will ever be no Down’s syndrome- children with Down’s syndrome. I don’t think that will ever happen. There will always be abnormalities which slip through a screening procedure, and there’s always going to be women who don’t want to have screening. Because screening is voluntary, you can opt in, you can opt out, and you can choose how far you go down the screening pathway.

SUSAN I’m wondering, actually, if we- you know, to Mike’s point about Down’s and in your own report you talk about the lives that a lot of Down’s people have, that they have self-worth, they have love and they, you know, have very good lives. Is it something we should be even trying to abort or breed out?

ROB Some people are affected more than others. This has impacts on the parent and on the child. We’re not saying those impacts are necessarily negative or positive, but it’s up for the women to make that choice.

SUSAN It’s tougher for the parents; more work needs to go in. It’s just a harder road for parents?

ROB Well, I’m not saying it’s tougher, but I’m saying that they may need to provide their child with more support. They may need to provide that support throughout life in some cases. I’m not saying that that’s necessarily a negative thing.

SUSAN Rob, do you think, you know, aborting Down’s babies, for example, leads us- and there’s more tests that we have, and I know you’re examining those tests less invasive for pregnant women – does it lead us down that slippery slope of designer babies? You know, let’s choose the eye colour, let’s choose if they’ve got long legs, let’s choose the baby we want?

ROB Prenatal testing has existing for Down’s syndrome and other disorders for over 40 years now, so this is not a new occurrence. That’s one thing. Also, we choose these tests – whether or not to use them – in light of many different things, and it’s not necessarily because we’ve chosen one test we will then choose a whole range more. I don’t think that’s the case.

SUSAN Thank you for your time, Rob. A quick last word to Mike. Well, Rob is very clearly not talking eugenics. Do you take him at his word?

MIKE Well, no, I disagree because, as I said before, eugenics is concerned with reducing the prevalence of people in a society based on a society’s perception of those people being disadvantaged. And Rob’s used that exact word – the perceived disadvantage of the value of people with Down’s syndrome in our society.

SUSAN Why so much do you want to save Down’s syndrome? Can you give me a succinct answer on that? Because to those of us without Down’s children, we wonder.

MIKE Because they’re a natural part of our human diversity, and that diversity is a thread that connects human beings as a community and a society, and it’s a part of what we are and we’re all connected, and we should learn as a society to embrace every child as they are, as a human being that holds dignity like everyone else.

Saving Downs reject University’s discriminatory paper on Down syndrome

All chilren have a right to lifeThanks to Mike Sullivan at SavingDowns for once again standing up and being a voice for people who have Down syndrome (both pre-born and born), and their families.

We reject Otago University’s discriminatory paper on Down syndrome

Saving Downs has called for the resignation of Otago University’s Director of Bioethics following the publishing last week of a highly offensive and discriminatory paper about prenatal testing for Down syndrome.

The paper that was published last week basically outlines the practice of  antenatal screening for Down syndrome in New Zealand and considers the possible implications of the introduction of ‘Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis’ (NIPD), which enables diagnosis earlier in pregnancy with less risk of complications.

There are a number of academic inaccuracies in the paper. Let’s have a look at those factual errors and other problematical statements.

In the abstract Jones acknowledges that:

“Prenatal testing may result in fewer people with Down syndrome.”

He then attempts in the rest of the paper to dismiss any ethical concerns over such an outcome. Such a possibility is extremely problematic as it devalues the lives of people with Down syndrome by reducing their birth prevalence. It is in direct conflict with basic principles of human rights and dignity.

Professor Jones states:

“First, we value an ethic that stresses the importance of ‘doing the most good’. On these grounds we accept that in some cases, the perceived disadvantages resulting from a Down syndrome pregnancy (to child and family) may outweigh the perceived good from the child’s life.”

This statement is false, as can be attested by the actual lived experience of people with Down syndrome and their families. Children with Down syndrome live good lives and are loved and valued. The concept that they are a “disadvantage” and that we are “doing the most good” by not having them around is an extreme form of discrimination that reinforces negative stereotypes towards them. It exposes them to harmful attitudes, bigotry and prejudice.

The first section of the paper provides an overview of screening in New Zealand and the 2010 “Quality Improvements”, a subject has been discussed at length on many of our blogs.

It is stated as a fact that:

“Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is used earlier than 14 weeks of gestation, and amniocentesis is used after this time. Both procedures carry with them a spontaneous abortion risk of around 1%.”

This is incorrect. The risk of spontaneous abortion for CVS is 1 to 3% according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Accuracy is important is discussing such matters where lives are at stake.

This is immediately followed by a very problematic statement:

“With current screening most pregnancies subjected to CVS or amniocentesis do not actually have a DS fetus and as a result, fetuses are lost as a consequence of these diagnostic procedures. The primary advantage of NIPD is that there is no risk of spontaneous abortion, because diagnosis is based on only a blood sample.”

A careful consideration of this statement shows that there is an underlying false assumption that the loss of foetuses without Down syndrome is an ethical concern, whilst the loss of those with Down syndrome does not present a ethical concern. NIPD is seen as an advantage because it reduces harm to one group of human beings whilst continuing harm to those with Down syndrome. The position stated is that one group of human beings are off less worth (those with Down syndrome) than the others (those without Down syndrome). The ethical and non-discriminatory position is to ensure that there is no harm caused to either group during the screening and diagnostic pathway. Incidentally, it was this same flawed logic that was behind the 2010 “quality improvements”.

Jones then moves on to observe that the introduction of NIPD is likely to have a negative impact on birth numbers for Down syndrome:

“Increased uptake of tests will result in increased detection of DS, and probably more terminations. The number of DS births may, as a result, drop. However, it is unlikely that DS will disappear.”

“But as more pregnancies are tested, will DS become a ‘rare’ disorder? In time, perhaps.”

But then he says:

“DS screening does not serve to systematically erase the congenitally disabled from the population; it provides information for patients about their pregnancy.”

So he has in just a few paragraphs before recognised that the number of births is likely to drop, but then says that screening “does not serve to systematically erase the congenitally disabled from the population”. If you proceed with act (screening with NIPT), knowing the likely outcomes (less births), then you are ethically bound to the consequences of your actions. This is a basic principle of law and ethics.

Read the rest of this post at Saving Downs.

Respect Life Month – Day Twenty-Seven

“…is it surprising that today we have become so morally blind (for wickedness blinds) that we save the baby whales at great cost, and murder millions of unborn children?” (Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman)

  • Make your views known to your local MP about abortion, access to RU-486, the Morning After Pill, euthanasia, pre-natal screening for Down Syndrome and other life issues.

Prayer for Respect of Life

Heavenly Father,
the beauty and dignity of human life
was the crowning of your creation.
You further ennobled that life
when your Son became one with us in his incarnation.
Help us to realize the sacredness of human life
and to respect it from the moment of conception
until the last moment at death.
Give us courage to speak with truth
and love and with conviction in defence of life.
Help us to extend the gentle hand of mercy and forgiveness
to those who do not reverence your gift of life.
To all, grant pardon for the times we have failed
to be grateful for your precious gift of life
or to respect it in others.
We ask this in Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Screening adviser offering illegal abortions for Down syndrome | Saving Downs

pregnant woman with babySaving Downs has revealed today in their blog that Professor Peter Stone who is the fetal medicine adviser to the National Screening Unit is offering illegal abortions to women who are carrying a child with Down syndrome.  This includes offering late term abortions (over 24 weeks) in Melbourne, Australia.

Clearly, there is a conflict of interest in Professor Stone’s position as an adviser to the National Screening Unit as his position is clearly anti continuing the pregnancy when Down syndrome is detected.

It is concerning to think that women may be going to Australia for late-term abortions in the case of a fetal anomaly.  In doing so, the medical professionals would be breaking the law.  There needs to be a thorough investigation into the practice of illegal late-term abortions in this country and the many and varied ways medical professionals get around the red tape.

To read Saving Downs’ blog post on this matter follow the link below.

Screening adviser offering illegal abortions for Down syndrome | Saving Downs.