Mother of toddler with Down’s syndrome says abortion laws are ‘offensive’ to her family

Máire Lea-Wilson gave birth to her son Aidan at 36 weeks – when the law still permitted her to have an abortion.

Máire Lea-Wilson and her son Aidan
Image:Máire Lea-Wilson and her son Aidan

In the UK, abortions are legal after the normal 24-week limit if Down’s syndrome is detected in a foetus.

 

I am the mother of two headstrong, determined, independent and loving boys.

As their mother, they need me to care for them, to teach them about the world, to protect them, to love them and to value them. I value them equally; but the law does not.

The reason for this is that Aidan has Down’s syndrome.

Little Aidan was born at 36 weeks and three days
Image:Aidan was born at 36 weeks and three days

Currently, in the UK, there is a 24-week limit for abortion, but if the baby has a disability such as Down’s syndrome, abortion is legal right up until birth.

I was 34 weeks pregnant when I discovered that Aidan would have Down’s syndrome.

There had been no indications of this throughout the pregnancy, and so it came as a huge shock to us.

My immediate reaction to the news was one of overwhelming grief, for what I believed I had lost, and a fear of the reality I was now confronted with.

Aidan is 16 months old
Image:Aidan is 16 months old

During this time of great vulnerability, I was told that my child would not be able to live independently, might not be able to walk or talk, would suffer through surgeries to correct his intestinal issues and possible congenital heart defects, that there was a high chance of stillbirth, and that he would make our lives so much more challenging.

Within the context of this fear, vulnerability, and biased information, I was offered an abortion three times.

The fact that I could have an abortion at such a late stage of pregnancy, made me feel like Down’s syndrome must be very, very bad indeed.

With the strength and support of my family and friends, I continued my pregnancy and gave birth to my beautiful baby boy at 36 weeks and three days, a time at which he still could have been aborted.

Aidan is now 16 months old. He has exceeded all my expectations; he is an absolute delight and is loved by everyone who meets him.

Máire claims she was offered an abortion three times
Image:Máire claims she was offered an abortion three times

He has faced challenges, but he has met them all with strength, fortitude, grace and dignity.

He has taught our little family so much about compassion, empathy and acceptance.

He is a joy and I am so incredibly proud of him. I would not change a single thing about him.

It would be disingenuous of me to say that I do not worry about Aidan’s future.

Aidan may never be able to do the things they said he wouldn’t; he may be able to do them all.

No medical professional can predict the future of any child, extra chromosome or not.

Máire has another son as well
Image:Máire has a second son who doesn’t have Down’s syndrome

As time has passed, I have learned to try not to predict Aidan’s future and realised that most of my worries really are not about Aidan at all; they stem from societal attitudes towards disability.

Will he be supported? Will he be treated fairly? Will he be valued equally? No mother should have to face these concerns, but this is something I must deal with every day, because of the law and the clear message it sends to me about my son.

We live in a society that proclaims that we want to empower those with disabilities, and that regardless of your background, you deserve a fair and equal chance at life.

This law, which allows abortion up until birth, is outdated, and we can do so much better than this.

I want my children to grow up knowing that we truly are all equally valued, regardless of ability status.

My reason for bringing this joint legal action to try and change the law is simple; as a mother, I will do everything in my power to make sure my child is treated fairly and equally. My reason is Aidan.

In response to Ms Lea-Wilson’s piece, the Department of Health and Social Care, and The British Pregnancy Advisory Service provided these statements:

The Department of Health and Social Care
The decision to end what is usually a wanted pregnancy can be extremely difficult and painful. Counselling is available at all stages of the screening pathway to support people as they come to terms with this extremely important decision.

Regardless of how an abnormality is detected or suspected, a woman has to be given time to understand the nature and severity of the condition so they are able to reach an informed decision about how to proceed – and whether to continue with the pregnancy or seek a termination. Arrangements should be made for the woman to see an expert who has knowledge about the abnormality and the options available.

At no stage should there be a bias towards abortion. All staff involved in the care of a woman or couple facing a possible termination of pregnancy must adopt a nondirective, non-judgemental and supportive approach. It is important that if anyone receives information they feel to be biased or in any way inappropriate that they raise this within the service or hospital concerned.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service
The nature and implications of some conditions in pregnancy may not be properly understood until after 24 weeks, and this is why the law gives women and their doctors time to reach informed decisions in what are often the most heartbreaking of circumstances.

Introducing a time limit for non-fatal conditions – but ones which may have profound and life limiting consequences for a child – will mean some women will be forced to make a choice about ending a pregnancy before they hit a sharp cut-off and eliminates the opportunity for ongoing monitoring, assessment and understanding before a decision is made.

These are intensely personal, difficult decisions which a small number of women and their families will sadly have to make each year: no woman should ever feel pressured to end a pregnancy after a diagnosis has been made but neither should she ever be forced to continue one when she knows it is not right to do so.

Source: sky.com


CHILD EUTHANASIA COMES TO THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch government is preparing to legalize euthanasia for children between the ages of one and twelve.

Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Health commissioned a report from the NVK (Dutch Society of Pediatrics), which recommended the government permit euthanasia for terminally ill children of one to twelve years of age. The report included a survey of 72 doctors employed at prominent hospitals specializing in medical training. The majority stated that it is morally acceptable to euthanize preteen children who are suffering without prospect of improvement if their parents request it. Many surveyed parents also supported the proposal. This week, Hugo de Jonge, Dutch health minister and deputy prime minister, informed the Dutch Parliament that the government will be moving forward to draft and implement legislation for the new regulations proposed in the report.

When parliament reviewed this report in 2019, a majority of MPs supported the recommendation. But at the time, de Jonge stated that the cabinet needed time to respond.

Children under the age of one with a terminal prognosis can already be euthanized in the Netherlands under the 2004 Groningen Protocol, which one journal described as an attempt “to regulate the practice of actively ending the life of newborns and to prevent uncontrolled and unjustified killing.” Children between the ages of twelve and fifteen can request euthanasia but must have the permission of their parents. Teenagers of sixteen or seventeen are required to inform their parents if they request euthanasia.

The Dutch government is now moving to make it legal for children between the ages of one and twelve. Dutch law currently does not permit this, although the horrifying (and often lengthy) process of ending a life by withholding nutrition is sometimes allowed. Euthanizing infants is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but the Groningen Protocol has served as a devil’s bargain between medical professionals and prosecutors. If doctors follow the Groningen Protocol when they kill an infant, prosecutors do not file charges.

De Jonge’s briefing cited medical experts asking for legal protections for the killing of preteen children in specific circumstances: “The NVK believes an extension of existing [Committee Regulations] regarding late termination of pregnancy and termination of life in newborns . . . to be the appropriate step to meet the identified need from practice and provide physicians with the desired legal protection.”

De Jonge claims that this proposal does not technically constitute an expansion of the law. He instead seeks to carve out a legal exception (like the Groningen Protocol) to ensure that doctors performing child euthanasia will not face criminal prosecution. He also informed MPs that he will work with both medical professionals and the public prosecution service on this.

The proposal has created a minor political firestorm. The current government coalition has served as the cabinet of the Netherlands since October 2017 and includes several political parties. The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Democrats 66 (D66) favor the proposal. The VVD has been pushing for the expansion of child euthanasia for several years already. The Christian Union Party (CU), a pro-life party, is thus far opposed.

Dutch media outlets are reporting that a formal cabinet proposal will easily command majority support in the House of Representatives, with MPs from at least six political parties in favor. Vocal Christian parliamentarians such as Kees van der Staaij, leader of the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP), the oldest political party in the Netherlands, will be sure to oppose this move. Despite this opposition, it appears that Dutch doctors will soon be able to kill children that they and parents believe are eligible for euthanasia.

Note that the Dutch euthanasia regime, with the Groningen Protocol as well as the new proposal, has completely dispensed with the standard hitherto used by assisted suicide activists in most Western countries. Activists argue that consent and the right to bodily autonomy justify so-called “end-of-life care”—but by expanding these deadly services to infants and children, euthanasia advocates have abandoned that pretense. A one-year-old infant cannot choose to die, and children legally barred from voting, consuming alcohol, or driving cannot understand what the offer of a quick and painless death really means.

When a doctor gives a lethal injection to a suffering infant, regardless of his motivation, he is killing that child; he and other adults have decided that child is better off dead. We used to understand how wrong that is. The Dutch government—and medical professionals tasked with the preservation of life—appear to have forgotten.

Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist.

Source: firstthings.com


Latest attack on Coptic Christians highlights religious violence in Egypt

Crux Staff Oct 16, 2020

AUTHOR

Latest attack on Coptic Christians highlights religious violence in Egypt

In a file photo, an Egyptian army soldier stands guard outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cairo as worshippers attend New Year’s Eve Mass, Dec. 31, 2017. (Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters via CNS.)

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – On October 5, 2020, a mob of Islamic extremists attacked the homes of Coptic Christians in the Egyptian village of Dabous, located in the Upper Egypt region of Minya.

According to International Christian Concern, two young Muslim adults beat up a ten-year old Coptic Christian child. Some Christian adults retaliated, triggering the attack the next day.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 100 million people, making the country home to the largest Christian population in the Arab world.

The vast majority of Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Church in the Oriental Orthodox communion – However there are about 350,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians, 300,000 Protestants, and just under 200,000 Catholics.

Christians suffer discrimination from the Muslim majority, and often find it hard to find jobs, get a good education, and participate in the social life of the country. In addition, the community is often the target of Islamist violence.

The ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, Claire Evans, says the Egyptian authorities “seek to guarantee silence, not safety.”

“The government under [President Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi has institutionalized a culture of silence by punishing anyone who speaks freely about the challenges they face. The government has expended so much energy demonstrating to the West how they are promoting religious freedom, but they have not taken concrete steps to protect religious freedom,” she told Crux.

Evans said it was necessary for Christians to speak up and speak out.

“Being silent about these issues re-victimizes the victims. In the face of an assault, such as what occurred in Dabous, we need to name it for what it is. And we need to process what that means. It is only by looking directly at religious freedom violations that religious freedom can be protected,” she said.

Following are excerpts of Evans’s interview with Crux.

Crux: What does this latest attack on Coptic Christians tell you about the safety of Christians in Egypt?

Evans: The Egyptian authorities seek to guarantee silence, not safety. Unfortunately, it is this dynamic which is all too evident in this recent incident in Dabous. Nothing except challenges are guaranteed to Christians, and by the authorities arresting the victims as a way of compelling them to reconcile with their attackers, the authorities are promoting a culture of silence that ultimately encourages more religious freedom abuses.

This attack in Dabous also shows us that even the most vulnerable, the children, are subjected to the harsh realities of persecution.

What is the state of religious freedom in Egypt?

The authorities will say that such attacks and other types of religious freedom abuses are less frequent, but in reality, reporting is less frequent. The government under al-Sisi has institutionalized a culture of silence by punishing anyone who speaks freely about the challenges they face. The government has expended so much energy demonstrating to the West how they are promoting religious freedom, but they have not taken concrete steps to protect religious freedom. We cannot confuse promoting and protecting, especially when human lives are at stake.

Christians in Egypt lead very difficult lives. They are discriminated against, harassed, intimidated, and threatened. Sometimes, those issues lead to violence, such as what we saw in Dabous. Until those core issues are addressed, until Egypt takes active steps to protect the victims of religious persecution and encourages people to speak out and name those abuses, then unfortunately religious freedom will not exist in Egypt.

Does the government do enough to hold extremists accountable?

The government’s response to extremists is a difficult question to address. On the one hand, the government frequently makes the announcement that they have raided an extremist location. It is strange that during these raids, most people usually end up dead, and thus never see trial. That’s neither justice nor due process. Sometimes the authorities will make a highly public court case against an extremist, but so often the extremist has membership in an organization – such as the Muslim Brotherhood – whom the ruling government views as a political threat. Motive is then questioned.

Most of the extremists who endanger the lives of Christians do not fit into these categories. It is the extremist who also lives a very normal life. It is a neighbor, a coworker, or a local leader. In these cases, the authorities do nothing. Mob attacks against Christians are where this issue becomes most abundantly clear. Why is it that the local authorities always arrest more victims than perpetrators? If you were to ask local Christians, they often say that it is because there are too many people who sympathize more with the perpetrators, and the authorities do not want to risk confrontation by holding them accountable. This is a serious problem.

In the face of such assault, what should be the attitude of Christians?

Christians should recognize that violence at its core, in whatever context, disconnects human relationships. It takes courage to name violence for what it is, but it is through this process that the ability to grasp the truth of what happened grows. Being silent about these issues re-victimizes the victims. In the face of an assault, such as what occurred in Dabous, we need to name it for what it is. And we need to process what that means. It is only by looking directly at religious freedom violations that religious freedom can be protected.

Source: cruxnow.com


Euthanasia no sign of progress, Spain’s Bioethics Committee says

Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.
Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.

.- The Bioethics Committee of Spain has unanimously rejected the underlying principles behind the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill that is making its way through the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature.

The 12-member CBE, which is responsible for issuing reports on matters with relevant bioethical implications, unanimously reached the decision to advise the government that the proposed euthanasia law is not valid from an ethical point of view.

“There are solid health, ethical, legal, economic and social reasons to reject the transformation of euthanasia into a subjective right and a public benefit,” the Oct. 6 CBE report states.

The bill is invalid not only because it decriminalizes euthanasia as an exception to the general rule requiring life to be protected, but also because it recognizes death as a right that can be incorporated into the list of public health benefits, the committee noted.

The CBE pointed out that “a person’s desire for a third party or the state itself to end his life, directly or indirectly, in those cases of great physical and/or mental suffering, must always be viewed with compassion and met with effective compassionate action leading to the prevention of pain and a peaceful death.”

“Legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide entails setting out on a path toward the devaluation of the protection of human life whose boundaries are very difficult to foresee, as the experience of our circumstances shows us.”

The committee stressed that “euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are not signs of progress but rather a regression of civilization, since in a context in which the value of human life is often conditioned by criteria of social utility, economic interests, family responsibilities and the burden to the public or public spending, the legalization of early death would add a new set of problems.”

The CBE called for “the comprehensive and compassionate protection of life, creating protocols, in the context of good medical practice, with the use of palliative sedation in the face of specific cases of unremitting existential suffering … along with making effective palliative care universally available.”

That, the committee underscored, should be the “path to take immediately, and not to proclaim a right to end one’s life through a public benefit,” especially after the coronavirus pandemic in which “thousands of our elderly have died in circumstances far removed from what is not only a decent life, but also a minimally dignified death.”

“Responding with euthanasia to the ‘debt’ that our society has contracted with our elderly after such events does not seem like the authentic path we are called to by an ethic of care, responsibility and intergenerational reciprocity and solidarity,” the CBE stressed.

The bill was introduced by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, and in February the Congress of Deputies approved it for consideration. Debate began Sept. 10.

The conservative People’s Party and the far-right party Vox presented two amendments to the bill proposing the regulation of palliative care, but both were defeated.

Commenting on the bill, Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves of Toledo explained in a recent pastoral letter that palliative care “is intended to make suffering more bearable in the final phase of the illness” as well as to provide appropriate care for the patient.

“The only alternative for a terminally ill person and their dignity is palliative care, not euthanasia, which from the perspective of legality and false compassion, totally destroys the dignity of the patient and places medical personnel and caregivers in the difficult situation of having to betray their most genuine vocation, which is to heal and provide care,” the archbishop stressed.

Archbishop Cerro also questioned the intentions of the political class seeking to legalize euthanasia, since “the legalization of any immoral action” inevitably leads to more and more situations where it is allowed.

The archbishop pointed to other European countries where euthanasia began with “terminally ill patients who requested it” but expanded to euthanizing “patients against their will, even children against the will of their parents.”

Source: catholicnewsagency.com


WEA calls on Sweden to better protect religious freedom of asylum seekers

A view of Stockholm, in Sweden. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://unsplash.com/@peteriveyphotography">PeterIvey </a>,

A view of Stockholm, in Sweden. / Photo: PeterIvey

Sweden was one of the countries reviewed in the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC).

Throughout its “cycles”, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) gives a chance to countries and NGOs to present recommendations to all member states.

During the September 2020 session, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), which holds a NGO status, gave a statement on Sweden. Previoulsy, they had also spoken about Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and Turkey.

 

Christian converts face risks of persecution in country of origin

“We call on Sweden to take more effective measures to protect the rights of asylum-seekers to leave their current religion or to change their religion for another, and who run from the significant risks of persecution in their countries of origin”, said Michael Mutzner, one of the WEA spokespersons at the UN HRC in Geneva (Switzerland).

“Studies have shown that Christian converts had faced politicized and arbitrary procedures in Sweden and that the personnel of the Migration Agency lacks the necessary expertise and does not sufficiently collaborate with civil society when it verifies the genuineness of a conversion claim”, he said.

The WEA also underlined the lack of freedoms for refugees already living in the Nordic country. They called on “Sweden to extend its National Plan against racism and hate crimes to include specific measures to combat all categories of hate crimes, including specific affirmative measures to combat harassment of Christian refugees in asylum centres”.

Abortion and conscientious objection

In its statement, the WEA also spoke about the lack of freedoms of health personnel in ethical issues. The evangelical body said it “regrets that Sweden is one of the rare countries where the right to conscientious objection for medical personnel unable to participate in abortions due to their convictions, is not respected”.

“No one should be discriminated against because of a refusal to participate in an abortion procedure, and reasonable accommodation should be discussed in order to find compromises that respond both to the imperative of a person’s conscience and to the requirement of public health services”.

WEA calls on Sweden to better protect religious freedom of asylum seekersMichael Mutzner, Wissam Al-saliby and Albert Hengelaar, World Evangelical Alliance representatives at the United Nations Human Rights Council. / WEA

The WEA added that it is “unfortunate” that Sweden “takes a hard line” in this matter when there would be alternatives to have “a more pragmatic approach that would respect the freedom of conscience of its medical personnel”.

Mutzner closed the WEA statement by calling on Sweden “to renounce its proposed legislative ban on faith-based private schools”.

Source: evangelicalfocus.com


Summit speakers discuss ongoing efforts to combat religious persecution

Summit speakers discuss ongoing efforts to combat religious persecution

Displaced women and children wearing protective masks wait in the medical center of a camp in Dahuk, Iraq, March 7, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Credit: CNS photo/Ari Jalal, Reuters.)

WASHINGTON — A digital summit sponsored by In Defense of Christians, “Combating Global Christian Persecution,” showed that the fight against all forms of religious persecution continues with a renewing cast of political leaders.

Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, last year’s winner of the group’s Congressional Champion award for his support of Coptic Christians in Egypt, pointed out in his remarks that while “religious freedom is part of American foreign policy,” attacks on Coptic Christians continue.

A House resolution introduced by Hill last year called for the Egyptian government to abolish its “culture of impunity” and to hold local officials responsible.

This year’s Congressional Champion, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a former Navy SEAL, was recognized for advocating for the preservation of Christians in the Middle East. The event was held Sept. 23.

“I saw this lack of freedom in my first three deployments” in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, seeing “firsthand the history of a country run by extremists.”

He called the Islamic State “evil incarnate” and “the consequences of seeing a world as we wished it were rather than as it really is.”

The American government allowed that to emerge because “we stopped believing in advancing the ideology of freedom. Evil like the Islamic State can only exist when American refuses the chance to lead.”

The work of In Defense of Christians gained the endorsement of New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

When he travels to parts of the world where Christians are known to be threatened with slaughter, he said in a recorded statement, “they constantly say to me, ‘We feel forgotten. We don’t hear anyone speaking up for us. We feel like we’re orphans. And we need your love, we need your support.’ And I tell them, you got it.”

Other issues include the formal U.S. condemnation — passed by Congress, but not yet signed by President Donald Trump — of the Armenian genocide of 1915; the ongoing Christian genocide in Nigeria; and anti-blasphemy and apostasy laws used to stifle dissent in the Middle East and Asia.

“We’re not going to be bullied or bribed into silence,” said Richard Ghazal, an Air Force judge advocate who acts as a senior adviser to In Defense of Christians.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, has co-sponsored a Senate resolution calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws, which, he observed, affect Muslims as well as members of other faiths and those who express no faith at all.

He pointed to the example of an American, Tahir Naseem, who on July 20 was shot and killed inside a Pakistani courtroom, where he’d been charged with blasphemy against Islam.

Saudi Arabia, Lankford said, promotes religious intolerance on social media, and in Russia in 2017, a blogger, Ruslan Sokolovsky, received a suspended prison sentence for blasphemy simply for playing a video game, Pokemon Go in a cathedral. The incident was widely condemned as an abuse of the legal system.

“One of the most important drivers of intolerance” in the Middle East “is education,” said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina. Official textbooks approved in Saudi Arabia teach that Christians and Jews are “enemies of Islam and its people.” Those textbooks became “materials of choice for ISIS.”

Last year, Wilson and Rep. William Keating, D-Massachusetts, co-sponsored the Saudi Educational Transparency and Reform Act, intended to require the U.S. State Department to review Saudi textbooks for religious bigotry.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, explained the need for the House resolution he introduced last year to “make the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws a priority in bilateral relationships between the United States and countries that have such laws” and further, to ” oppose efforts by the United Nations to implement an international anti-blasphemy norm.”

“Any religious adherent can be a victim,” he said, and the oppressor can be “whoever has the power of the state behind them.”

Raskin reminded the gathering of “a basic principle of humanity: That people have got to be safe to worship as they please, or not worship at all.”

Former Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia pointed to a recent Pew Research Institute survey showing that “80% of the world’s population … at this very moment lives in a repressive religious environment.”

“The cries of the persecuted are met by the sound of silence by many in the faith community and many in the West,” he said. “In the pulpits of many Western churches, we have really heard the sounds of silence.”

The Washington-based In Defense of Christians focuses most of its advocacy on the Middle East. In addition to gaining, in 2019, congressional condemnation of the Armenian genocide, the organization also backed the 2018 Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, signed into law by Trump. This provides direct aid for Christians who survived persecution by the Islamic State.

Source: cruxnow.com