Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 15
No. 10
October, 2021
 
Focus on the United States

Public Officials Are Told: “Say Abortion!”


Pro-abortion organizations have called upon public officials and policy makers to “use the word abortion” because not saying it contributes to negative views about abortion which they label “abortion stigma”. 116 organizations, led by the Center for Reproductive Rights, addressed public officials and policy makers in an open letter in which they complain that “public officials will sometimes refer to abortion as ‘women’s health’ and the legal framework around abortion rights as ‘the right to choose’, ‘pro-choice’ or ‘protecting Roe v. Wade.’ Avoiding the word ‘abortion’ reinforces abortion stigma and the notion that abortion is morally wrong, allowing opponents of abortion to define the moral narrative surrounding it.”

They charge that “abortion stigma” which they define as “associating a ‘negative attribute’ towards people who provide, have had, or are seeking abortions” has enabled the passage of laws like Texas SB 8, which bans abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy when a heartbeat is detected.

Abortion stigma according to the organizations “is central to the anti-abortion movement, which wields stigma as a deliberate tactic to erode public support for abortion, disparage health care providers who perform abortions, and shame and isolate patients who have received this type of health care.” 

The pro-abortion organizations fail to realize that changing the words used to talk about abortion does not change the fact that abortion stigma exists because abortion is a destructive, violent act that kills a child in the womb. And public officials know it.


Biden’s New Rule Allows Funding of Planned Parenthood


The Biden administration issued a new regulation overturning the “Protect Life Rule” that will allow Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions to receive federal family planning funds, although the funds cannot directly pay for abortions.

The final regulation announced by Health and Human Services will allow health clinics which participate in the Title X family planning program for low-income communities to once again refer for abortions. In addition, the rule eliminates “requirements for strict physical and financial separation between abortion-related activities and Title X project activities.”

Planned Parenthood applauded the new regulation calling it a “huge Victory for Sexual and Reproductive Health Care” but expressed regret that it allows for conscientious objection to abortion counseling or referral for Title X grantees calling this part of the rule “harmful and unnecessary”.

Pro-life groups argued that the program’s funding of abortion providers, while not directly subsidizing abortions, will help free up other resources at those clinics for abortions. In 2019, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, forfeited an estimated $60 million in annual Title X funding when it withdrew from the program.  

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, expressed disappointment with the new Title X regulation and told EWTN News Nightly that it is “really sad” that the Biden administration is “in the control of abortion extremists.” He challenged President Biden to act according to his faith, “He likes to call himself a devout Catholic. I would urge him to begin to act like one, especially on the life issues. And to let his faith really inform his conscience and the decisions that he’s making, not the platform of his party.”


Biden’s Equality Plan: Deadly for Unborn Babies


The Biden Administration has released its National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality which seeks to “protect the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion established in Roe v. Wade in the United States, while promoting access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad.”

The promotion of the death of the most vulnerable children among us—those alive but not yet born—shows the hypocrisy of the Biden Administration’s claim that it is following a “tireless pursuit of greater equity for all”. 

They present abortion as part of reproductive health care, third in the Strategy’s list of ten strategic priorities: “(3) protecting, improving, and expanding access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health care.”

The Biden Administration’s abortion extremism also includes, “Sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice in the United States are under grave attack” and that they commit to using “all available levers to protect these rights, and we will work to codify the constitutional rights recognized under Roe v. Wade.”

On the international side, Biden's and Harris’s plan includes ensuring “better integration of sexual and reproductive health service provision in global contexts, including in humanitarian and post-conflict settings”, as well as “U.S. global leadership on sexual and reproductive rights and comprehensive sex education, in bilateral and multilateral fora and in efforts to advance universal health care coverage globally.”

Read more here.


European Parliament Condemns U.S. Pro-Life Laws


A majority of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted a resolution in the context of human rights that not only condemns and calls for the overturning of Texas Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion after detection of the unborn child’s heartbeat, but calls for the entire U.S. to eliminate all laws against abortion by enactment of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and by establishing “federal legal protection for universal access to abortion”.

The non-binding pro-abortion resolution—European Parliament resolution of 7 October 2021 on the state law relating to abortion in Texas, USA (2021/2910(RSP)—was introduced by The Left political group and passed by a vote of 381 in favor, 253 against and 36 abstentions. It reads as if written by pro-abortion activists and even calls for the European Union (EU) and its Member States to provide EU support and funding for US-based civil society groups “protecting and promoting SRHR in the country, as an expression of its universal commitment to these rights.” It seeks to provide ‘safe haven’ for medical professionals who violate Texan law and face legal action.

The resolution presents abortion as ‘essential’ health care and part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The ‘realization of SRHR’ is described as “an essential element of human dignity and is intrinsically linked to the achievement of gender equality and combating gender-based violence.”

Read more here.


“Human Rights Begin in the Womb”


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan wrote in his column about the “divisiveness in our society today” and the common worry that “our world has lost a basic respect for life”. He listed the leading crises and loss of respect for life in the U.S. and the world including the plight of refugees and immigrants, Afghanistan, Covid, violence and murder on the streets, suicides, and mass murders. It states “something tells me we all agree: human life is now treated as useless, worthless, disposable”.

He then asks the question, “Where will all this stop?” and proposes that “it will not end until we stop the presumed untouchable radical abortion license that seems to have captivated a segment of our society. As Mother Teresa wrote, ‘We must not be surprised when we hear of murder, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left for us but to kill each other?"

A brillant and thought-provoking argument against abortion follows. The cardinal asks readers to: “Think about it: if the fragile life of an innocent baby in the womb of her/his mother— which nature protects as the safest place anywhere—can be terminated, who is secure? If conveniences, ‘choices,’ or ‘my rights’ can trump the life of the baby in the womb, what human life is unthreatened?”

He continues, “When the law allows vulnerable life to be destroyed, forces health care workers to do it against their consciences, and demands that our tax money subsidize it, what message are we giving about the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life?

“When those potent forces pushing the abortion agenda will not allow any thoughtful consideration of any reasonable limit on a right to take the tiny life of a pre-born infant, even up to the moment of birth, where do we go?

“I recently listened to some of our lawmakers describe the terrible dilemma they experienced when they were told they were pregnant. They described the answer they chose in aborting their baby. They spoke chillingly but movingly to defend their choice.

“But, I ask: who speaks on behalf of the helpless, defenseless baby?

“Well, we must! Women and men of all faiths, or none at all—since abortion is not primarily a religious issue, but one of civil rights—are uniting to speak up; the unfettered, unquestioned ‘right’ to an abortion is inhumane, violent, and contrary to human rights.

“As with other issues of human rights, it is essential that there be equal justice under law for the baby. So, while we rally for equal protection of the law for the baby, let us also rally around women tempted to terminate their baby’s life, providing care, compassion, accompaniment, proper medical attention, alternatives such as adoption, and a culture that protects babies and moms before and after birth.

“Ask again: when will all this violence, and disregard for life that causes us to cringe, halt?

“The first step has to be an end to abortion.”

Defending Life

In Remembrance, Sir David Amess MP


The global pro-life community mourns the tragic death of pro-life MP Sir David Amess from the United Kingdom who died of stabbing injuries inflicted by a 25-year-old man while the MP was meeting with constituents. The Conservative pro-life champion leaves behind his wife Julia, four daughters, and one son. 

First elected in 1983, Sir David “worked relentlessly over the years, championing initiatives in Parliament to introduce more protections for unborn babies and more support for women facing crisis pregnancies” according to Right To Life UK, of which he was a patron.

He is remembered for his compassion and gentleness and commitment to religious liberty and defense of persecuted Christians. Fiona Bruce, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy for religious freedom, said Sir David “was always faithfully pro-life and faithfully pro-family. A dear man with a humble manner and a gentle humor which built friendships across the House. The phrase ‘will be sorely missed’ can be overused, but not with reference to David.”

During a tribute in the House of Commons, Keir Starmer, the Labour Party leader said: “In the last few days, there have been many tributes to Sir David, from politicians of all parties, from his constituents and members of the public, from friends and from family, and from faith leaders, especially the Catholic Church, of which he was such a devoted follower.”

“Each tribute paints its own picture — of a committed public servant, of kindness, and of a man whose decency touched everybody that he met. Taken together, these tributes are a powerful testimony to the respect, the affection, and, yes, the love that David was held in across politics and across different communities. Together, they speak volumes about the man that he was and the loss that we grieve.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that politics needed people like Sir David, who was “dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently.”

During a tribute in the House of Lords, Lord David Alton remembered Sir David stating, “His faith informed his passionate commitment to the very right to life, to human dignity and to the common good.” He referred to a statement issued by Amess’ family which asked people “to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.”

Lord Alton concluded, “As David’s horrific death demonstrates, notwithstanding all the good in the world we still have the capacity to do truly evil things.”

“His death reminds us of the deep-seated challenges we face. Above all, it will have devastating consequences for his family and loved ones, and my principal thoughts and prayers today are with Julia and their children. May this good man now rest in peace.”

PNCI adds its voice to those who say, “May he rest in peace, may perpetual light shine upon him, and may his family be consoled”.  


Pope Francis on Abortion Drugs and Post Abortion Regret


Pope Francis again voiced his strong opposition to abortion in a speech to the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities. Addressing pharmacists who often face the pro-abortion push for access to abortion-inducing drugs, the pontiff addressed the issue of abortion. He stated, “You know that I am very clear about this: it is a homicide and it is not licit to become an accomplice.”

In his remarks, Pope Francis recognized that “medical substances” can “become poisons” and urged “exercising constant vigilance, so that the goal is always the patient's life in its entirety. You are always at the service of human life.”

He recognized that at times this leads to the need for conscientious objection, which he called “fidelity to your profession, if validly motivated” and “the ethical intimacy of every health professional”. Pope Francis continued saying that conscientious objection “should never be negotiated, it is the ultimate responsibility of health professionals.” 

The remarks are timely given laws protecting conscientious objection by health professionals to abortion are under attack around the world.

Pope Francis also spoke the duty to be close to women so they do not think that abortion is a solution “because in reality it is not the solution”. He addressed long-term abortion regret which he explained as “after ten, twenty, thirty years life sends you the bill. And you have to be in a confessional to understand the price of this, which is so hard.”


One Year Commemoration of Global Pro-Life Declaration


A commemoration marking the first anniversary of the Geneva Consensus Declaration Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family (GCD) was held at the U.S. Capitol attended by ambassadors, lawmakers, congressional and embassy staff, and representatives of organizations.

The GCD which proclaims that “human rights extend to unborn children” was initiated by the U.S. at the World Health Assembly during the Trump administration and was signed by 34 countries. President Biden withdrew U.S. support in his first week in office but two additional countries, Russia and Guatemala, recently joined the coalition.

It was the first time that countries united to stand up for core values of life and family as they face ongoing attempts by the United Nations to promote abortion as an international human right and advance access to abortion. The countries are also committed to

expanding women’s health gains and protecting the sovereignty of nations and affirming human rights.

Speakers highlighted the ongoing significance of the coalition. Valerie Huber, president of the Institute for Women’s Health and an architect of the GCD, said, “What happened last year was historic because it was the first time nations said not only ‘we agree’ with the precepts enshrined in the Geneva Consensus Declaration, but we commit to work together to achieve them.” The coalition continues to seek new members.

The chairs and co-chairs of the House and Senate pro-life caucuses spoke at the luncheon along with a number of Members of the House and Senate. A resolution was introduced celebrating the GCD and its principles.

International Pressure for Abortion

Slovak MPs Told to Stop Introducing Pro-Life Laws


In complete disregard to the right of legislators to determine their country’s laws on abortion, as agreed to during the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe told parliamentarians in the Slovak Republic that they must “reject repeated attempts to restrict access to abortion", objecting to the very idea of national lawmakers drafting legislation to enact commonsense abortion regulations such as waiting periods and informed consent. 

In her letter to the National Council of the Slovak Republic, her third such letter opposing efforts in the parliament to enact pro-life protections for women and their unborn children, Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic expressed concern that the draft law would “introduce restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion services.” She claims that “attempts to restrict access to safe and legal abortion services would bring the Slovak Republic’s laws and practices into conflict with its international human rights obligations and run counter to the principle of non-retrogression in law.”

PNCI notes that abortion is not an international human right and no international treaty states that it is. 

The Parliament will soon be voting on the bill 'On Helping Pregnant Women' by Anna Zaborska that includes extending the mandatory waiting period from 48 to 96 hours to ensure that a woman has time to reflect on all the information that she receives including detailed information on the economic, social, psychological help that she as a pregnant woman can obtain from the state or NGOs.

The legislation would mandate that access to abortion be overseen by the Slovak Ministry of Health and would change the legal term “pregnancy interruption” to “pregnancy termination” to accurately depict the result of an abortion. The bill would also extend state financial help to a woman who gives birth to her 4th child and increase state financial help in case of the birth of a child with severe disabilities.

The radical abortion group One of Us also sent a letter to Slovak parliamentarians demanding that they “refrain from any further proposals seeking to undermine and restrict women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Slovakia.”

The Commissioner’s actions, and others like her who hold positions of influence in international and regional intergovernmental organizations, have become familiar and predictable as they fear lawmakers who are willing to stand for the right to life of the most vulnerable, regardless of political cost or personal attack. 

The Commissioner claims that restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion “are indicative of an alarming trend towards the undermining of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the country and deplores that this created a hostile environment for human rights defenders working in this area.”

PNCI notes that the real hostility is directed at lawmakers defending the first and most basic human right—the right to life—and extends its profound gratitude for courageous legislators such as Anna Zaborska.


Former Ex Dir of UN Women to Chair Pro-Abortion NGO Board


Women Deliver, a pro-abortion NGO active at the United Nations, has announced that former Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will serve as the Chair of its Board of Directors beginning in February 2022. It writes that “Phumzile is a fierce advocate for the global advancement of gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)” and well as “a longtime partner to Women Deliver”. 

Carmen Barroso, former Co-chair of the Independent Accountability Panel of the UN Secretary General and former CEO of IPPF/WHR and of Global Doctors for Choice, is one of five new Board Members. 

Women Deliver declares that the Board’s duties will include overseeing “Women Deliver’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization grounded in anti-colonialist, intersectional feminist principles, while fostering a culture of respect and inclusion for all.”

The organization has been trying to overcome charges of racism by staff leveled last year who described the organization as having a “white savior complex” perpetuated by white women running the organizations and serving on the board. 


Activists Complain Abortion Laws in Europe Are Too Strict


Abortion laws in Europe have been in the spotlight as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case involving a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It has been pointed out that banning abortion after 15 weeks is in line with the majority of abortion laws in Europe. However, abortion activists in Europe want abortion laws in Europe to be broadened to increase access to abortion throughout pregnancy as in the U.S.

International Planned Parenthood Europe (IPPF EN) and the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF) created a “European Abortion Policies Atlas” that scores 52 European countries and territories on laws regulating access to abortion which they stated “clearly shows that Europe is not as progressive as it might seem.” 

The groups are on calling on law and policy makers in Europe to “urgently update their legislation” to increase access to abortion. 

The Secretary of EPF, Neil Datta, said, “While international media has recently rightly focused on Texas and the broader U.S. in terms of restricted abortion access, the situation in Europe also deserves specific attention. Our atlas shows a mixed situation across the Continent.” 

The findings include that 31 countries do not pay for abortion in the national health system, 19 countries require counseling and waiting periods— described as forcing women “to endure medically unnecessary requirements before accessing abortion care (compulsory and sometimes biased counseling, forced waiting periods)”, and 26 countries “allow health workers to deny care on the basis of their personal beliefs or convenience”.

The groups found that 38 countries and territories were scored as doing “medium to exceptionally poor” and groups were disappointed that “even in so-called progressive countries, women and girls continue to endure medically unnecessary procedures or denial of care by medical professionals on the basis of personal beliefs or convenience.”

Legislative News

El Salvador: Congress Rejects Bill to Legalize Abortion


El Salvador’s Congress has voted to uphold its pro-life laws prohibiting abortion. Proposed legislation, backed by abortion activists, would have permitted abortion in cases of fetal anomaly, rape, and the mother’s life. Members rejected the changes by a vote of 73-11. This is the third time Congress has voted against legalizing abortion since its constitutional provision protecting the right to life was passed in 1998.

 


Benin: Congress Approves Bill Legalizing Abortion


The parliament of Benin has voted to legalize abortion on demand, making it one of the few African countries to do so. The new law greatly expands the country’s previous law which limited abortion to cases of rape, incest, life of the mother, and fetal anomaly. Specifically, the law will permit abortion if the pregnancy is “likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress incompatible with the interests of the woman and/or the unborn child.” Heated debate on the bill reflected the opposing viewpoints in Benin, with opposition led by religious groups. The bill’s passage was credited to the efforts of the Family Health Association in Benin, a member association of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The law now must be ratified by the constitutional court to go into effect.

Executive News

New Zealand: Government Widens Distribution of Abortion Pills


New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has expanded access to abortion by permitting doctors, midwives, and nurse practitioners to dispense abortion pills. “These changes will improve access to early medical abortion, and will mean people can access the service from their trusted primary care provider and in a familiar setting,” said Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall. “Growing the skills and size of our abortion workforce is a key part of improving services,” Verrall said, announcing that training would be available for interested practitioners. Just last year, New Zealand legalized abortion on demand for any reason by passing one of the most expansive abortion laws in the world. “Transforming abortion services will take time, but progress has been made,” Verrall said.  


India: Government Expands Abortion Limit to 24 Weeks


The Indian government has released new rules extending the time frame for abortion from 20 to 24 weeks. The changes apply to specific categories of women, including victims of sexual assault, minors, physical disabilities, and those whose marital status has changed during pregnancy. The new rules also include women with mental illness, cases of fetal anomaly, and women in disasters or emergency situations. The rules also set up state level medical boards to evaluate requests for late term abortions. Abortion activists welcomed the new rules, though criticized that they were not available to all women.   

Judicial News

Argentina: Court Convicts Doctor Who Saved Woman and Child from Abortion


The Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina has upheld the conviction of Dr Leandro Rodríguez Lastra, who was convicted of avoiding an abortion in 2017, which saved the life of the mother and her 23 week old son. The mother had taken misoprostol and was near death when Rodríguez Lastra intervened at the hospital, saving her life and subsequently, the life of her unborn son, who was later placed for adoption. In October 2019, Rodríguez Lastra was sentenced to one year and two months in prison, a suspended sentence, and disqualified from holding public office for two years and four months. Damián Torres, lawyer for the pro-life doctor, said the decision is final but that they may take it to an international body. Torres has also announced he is writing a book to guide professionals through conscientious objection issues to avoid a similar case.


Northern Ireland: Court Rules Secretary Failed to Comply with Abortion Law


A High Court has ruled that Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State has “failed to comply with his duties” to make abortion services available “expeditiously.” The case was brought against the Northern Ireland Executive, the Department of Health, and the Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis after delays in implementing new abortion laws. In his ruling, Mr. Justice Colton did not find fault with the Executive or Department of Health, only with the Secretary. “The court declares that between April 2020 and March 2021, the secretary of state failed to comply with his duties under Section 9 of the Northern Ireland Executive Formation 2019 Act, in that he failed to ensure expeditiously that the state provide women with access to high quality abortion and post abortion care in all public health facilities in Northern Ireland,” said Colton.  

Colombia: Pro-Lifers Protest Constitutional Court Ahead of Abortion Debate


Hundreds of pro-lifers protested at the Constitutional Court of Colombia as the court began debate on the decriminalization of abortion. The Court’s president, Anotonio LIzarazo, has said a ruling would be issued at the end of November. Unidos por la Vida, the pro-life platform behind the sit-in, said it seeks to “demand that the court magistrates comply with the Constitution and protect our future, the unborn babies, that they recognize that women deserve better than abortion.” Pro-lifers carried blue and light blue flags and banners, symbolizing the pro-life movement. In 2006, the Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, malformation of the unborn baby, and life of the mother. Unidos por la Vida criticized the Court, saying it "has continued to expand access to abortion" in Colombia, violating article 11 of the Constitution, which asserts human life is "inviolable."

U.S.: Supreme Court to Hear Cases on Texas Abortion Law


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas’s new law banning abortion at six weeks gestation. Until then, the Court has left the law in place. The Texas law prohibits abortion from the time a fetal heartbeat is detected, approximately six weeks, and would permit citizens to sue anyone who assists in the procurement of an abortion. The Department of Justice has challenged the Texas law in U.S. v Texas and abortion providers are challenging it in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v Jackson. The Court said it would hear oral arguments in both cases on November 1st. 


 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

In this issue

 
Focus on the U.S.
Public Officials Are Told: “Say Abortion!”
Biden’s New Rule Allows Funding of Planned Parenthood
Biden’s Equality Plan: Deadly for Unborn Babies 
"Human Rights Begin in the Womb"
European Parliament Condemns U.S. Pro-Life Laws
 
Defending Life 
In Remembrance,Sir David Amess MP
Pope Francis on Abortion Drugs and Post Abortion Regret
One Year Commemoration of Global Pro-Life Declaration 
 
International Pressure for Abortion
Slovak MPs Told to Stop Introducing Pro-Life Laws
Former Ex Dir of UN Women to Chair Pro-Abortion NGO Board
Activists Complain Abortion Laws in Europe Are Too Strict
 
Legislative News
El Salvador: Congress Rejects Bill to Legalize Abortion
Benin: Congress Approves Bill Legalizing Abortion
 
Executive News
New Zealand: Government Widens Distribution of Abortion Pills 
India: Government Expands Abortion Limit to 24 Weeks
 
Judicial News
Argentina: Court Upholds Conviction of Doctor Who Saved Woman and Child from Abortion
Northern Ireland: Court Rules Secretary Failed to Comply with Abortion Law
Colombia: Pro-Lifers Protest Constitutional Court Ahead of Abortion Debate
U.S.: Supreme Court to Hear Cases on Texas Abortion Law