15 April 2019
by John Smeaton, Chief Executive SPUC
Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education (in England) makes it crystal clear, in his letter (9th April 2019) to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), that, in his view, the government, not parents, are responsible for the moral formation of children, not least in matters relating to relationships education to be made compulsory in schools in September 2020 (Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools).
When I was a teacher in the early 70s, my colleagues and I understood very clearly that we acted in loco parentis [in the place of a parent]. According to Damian Hinds, this is no longer the case. Head teachers, firmly guided by government policy, and with the full force of the law, are to lead in the formation of children on the most fundamental moral issues – and parents will be relegated to second place.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) states, Article 26, section 3, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”.
Nodding in the direction of the UNDHR, Mr Hinds’ letter to the NAHT refers to parents as the “primary educators” of their children. However, it quickly becomes overwhelmingly clear that this reference is PR of the worst kind. It’s a lie.
It’s a lie because the one means through which parents can exercise their role as the “primary educators” of their children – to withdraw them from Relationships Education or Relationships and Sex Education classes – is either being completely denied to them (at primary school) or partly denied at secondary school where parents can “request” that their child be withdrawn from sex education lessons only, and with the final decision remaining firmly with the head teacher.
And it’s a lie as the following extract from Mr Hinds’ letter makes perfectly clear:
“Parents and carers are the primary educators of their children, and it is right that they are involved in developing how schools deliver relationships education. Key to an effective consultation is space and time for parents to input, ask questions and share concerns, and for the school to decide the way forward. What is taught, and how, is ultimately a decision for the school.”
With or without my emphases in bold, above, the meaning of Damian Hinds’ words is as plain as a pikestaff: It’s the government’s job, according to Damian Hinds, to decide the policy which dictates the formation for children on the most fundamental moral and ethical issues.
In his letter Mr Hinds clearly explains how the Government’s policy will succeed in enforcing its policy in schools [my emphases added]:
The Government’s policies, to which Mr Hinds refers, are set out in its latest Guidance and Regulations regarding the proposed content and delivery of compulsory Relationships and Sex Education in schools. These policies include encouraging secondary school children to “explore” their developing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. They include dangerous and immoral lifestyle choices being presented as equally valid as marriage. And they include abortion being presented simply as one of the available options during pregnancy and pupils being signposted to contraceptive and abortion services, without any parental knowledge or consent.
In his letter Damian Hinds stresses “his strong belief in school autonomy” and “allowing head teachers’ discretion” which responsible parents will rightly seize on in order to engage robustly with schools on what their children are being taught. The head teacher’s “discretion” provides a small opening for parents whose children attend schools where head teachers are unhappy themselves about the government’s policies. But the head teacher’s “discretion” is very much a double-edged sword, with head teachers allowed to introduce an LGBT agenda into the school if they are so minded. In such cases, parents’ wishes would be cast aside as head teachers have the full backing of the law to veto the outcome of any consultation with parents.
“In modern diverse Britain”, to coin a phrase in his letter, it is very clear that parents are to raise their children in loco Rei Republicae. Sir Edward Leigh rightly warned, in 2017, in the House of Commons that parents would view these new compulsory school subjects as “a State take-over bid for parenting”
Mr Hinds has gone far too far and he will continue to be strongly resisted by parents throughout England.
12 April 2019
by Margaret Akers
This week was the annual National Union of Students (NUS) Conference in Glasgow. Thursday marked the last day, and pro-life students gathered to protest outside – calling on the NUS to respect and defend their freedom of speech.
The NUS is meant to represent student unions across the UK, and by extension their students. And yet – they continue to promote pro-abortion campaigns and publish resources that discriminate against those who identify as pro-life.
In the lead up to the referendum on the eight amendment in Ireland – the NUS promoted the #hometov8te campaign. They encouraged eligible Irish students to travel home to vote in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment.
In 2015, the NUS produced a resource titled ‘Keep Campuses Pro-Choice’. This resource advises student unions on how to pass pro-choice policies, how to affiliate with Abortion Rights, and how to counteract pro-life groups on campus.
It states: ‘As a result of the establishment of the ‘Alliance of Pro Life Students’ there have been more anti-choice groups set up in University Student Unions, and we believe it is important for Student Unions to be confident in their ability to be pro-choice.’
It also advises on how to undermine pro-life societies on campus, saying, ‘If the anti-choice group or society has a website or Facebook page, explore the page to familiarise yourself with their beliefs and their links. Believing in something like a link between abortion and breast cancer discredits their other beliefs which can get others who may be influenced by them back on your side.’
Additionally, some Student Unions who are affiliated with the NUS have denied Union affiliation to pro-life student groups.
This year, on the last day of the NUS conference, a NUS twitter page tweeted out a ‘photocall’ in support of the #TrustUs campaign in support of decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland – and later posted the photo.
This campaign seeks to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland – without the extension of the 1967 Act (and the restrictions that come with it) and without a referendum. The campaign website states: ‘We believe that access to abortion is a human right and that the bodily autonomy of every pregnant person should be respected.’
Not only does the NUS openly promote pro-abortion policy, but it does not stand up in defence of the freedom of speech of pro-life students.
Regarding the NUS, Bernadette Waddelove, Student Support Officer for the Alliance of Pro-Life Students stated, ‘The NUS’ own President from 2017-19, Shakira Martin, described conversations about free speech on campus as ‘annoying’ and a ‘distraction’. With her as the example of how important freedom of speech should be to student unions, it is perhaps no surprise that blatant censorship has prevented pro-life societies in Aberdeen and Edinburgh being affiliated with their unions’.
In Scotland alone, multiple Student Unions have refused affiliation to pro-life student groups. Glasgow Students for Life and Strathclyde Students for Life were only granted affiliation to their respective unions following the threat of legal action. Aberdeen Life Ethics Society and the Edinburgh Life Society are still fighting for affiliation on their campuses.
In response to these things, pro-life students from Scottish Universities gathered outside of the NUS conference in protest. The event was coordinated by the Alliance of Pro-Life Students and supported by SPUC Scotland. There were student representatives present from Glasgow University, Strathclyde University, and Edinburgh University – all of whom have faced discrimination from their Student Unions.
Signs had slogans reading ‘National Union of (some) Students’ and ‘Defend Our Freedom Speech’. The response was mixed. Many delegates came up and gave the protestors their support – sharing their concern that the NUS is not representative of all students. Others had a less positive response, with some cursing at protesters – but the event remained incredibly civil.
Speaking about the support the protest received, Bernadette Waddelove said, "It was great to receive lots of support from student delegates at the conference, whether pro-life or not, who agreed that the NUS is failing to represent all students and is fundamentally undemocratic. One student delegate said that it had been the worst three days of his life due to the sheer intolerance towards anyone who dared to have a different opinion. We have never expected everyone to agree with us - but to fulfil their role as centres of learning, universities need to be open to discourse from all sides.’
Michael Robinson, Director of Communications and Campaigns for SPUC Scotland, who came by to support the protest, said ‘It was encouraging to see so many pro-life young people standing up in defence of, not only the unborn, but free speech. Many of these young people also participate in SPUC Scotland’s Project Truth Roadshow. It’s reassuring to know the future of the pro-life movement is in such capable hands’.
Pro-Life societies from universities that are further afield also showed their support on social media by posting photos of their own signs. These included posts from Durham Students for Life and Birmingham Students for Life.
It is clear these students are not going to give up the cause of bringing the pro-life message to their University campuses. Jamie McGowan, a Strathclyde student who attended the protest said: ‘Given that the NUS actively publish guidelines on preventing the rise of our pro-life groups on campus, we’re here today to tell the NUS that their censorship tactics are counterintuitive to the student movement - a movement which necessarily operates around a free exchange of ideas and opinions. The pro-life worldview is one which is well-established in bioethics and academia, and we’re not willing to let a small group of students like the NUS threaten that status’.
05 April 2019
by Margaret Akers
Abby Johnson was not the first person to quit the abortion industry
Last week, the film Unplanned made its debut in cinemas across the USA. It tells the story of Abby Johnson, former director of Planned Parenthood in Texas. After years of being affected by what she saw in the clinic, she eventually left her job and has become a powerful voice in the pro-life movement – establishing And Then There Were None, an organisation which helps abortion workers leave their jobs.
Abby Johnson is not the only person to leave a life working for the abortion industry. Below are more stories of people who previously facilitated or promoted abortions, who then went on to speak out against the abortion industry.
In 1938, Dr Aleck Bourne, a gynaecologist, performed an abortion on a 14-year-old girl who had been assaulted by British soldiers. He was charged with performing an illegal abortion. He plead not guilty on the premise that the victim’s mental health would have suffered had she carried the pregnancy to term. Dr Bourne was acquitted. Seemingly, the judge condoned the abortion, considering it a life-saving procedure for the young girl. The outcome of this case went on the influence the grounds for abortion in the 1967 Abortion Act.
Dr Bourne was shocked to see how this case was interpreted into the law and the ramifications of it. He regretted his role in introducing legal abortion in the UK. He went on to become a member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, seeking to again make abortion unthinkable in the United Kingdom.
Read more here:
Dr Nathanson was a co-founder of NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now National Abortion Rights Action League) in the United States. He was a director of New York City’s Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, then the largest abortion provider in the world. He estimated he was involved with 75,000 abortions.
In the 1970s, he was struck by the horror of everything the abortion industry had done and became a pro-life activist. He produced the documentary The Silent Scream, which has been instrumental in the history of the pro-life movement.
Ms Georgiou was a staff-member at Marie Stopes in Brixton South London in 2005. She left her job and spoke publicly about how staff were expected to meet quotas for abortions every day; paid bonuses would be given or withheld based on meeting this quota. Staff were given a target of 50 abortions per day. The report stated that Marie Stopes: "concedes that staff do receive performance-related awards and agrees that employees at the South London clinic were told to increase their 'efficiency and capacity' if they wanted to receive the full amount". Ms Georgiou became an important whistle-blower, drawing attention to these unethical practices.
Read more here:
As an abortion provider, Dr Levatino performed over a thousand abortions. After years working in the abortion industry, he left and decided he needed to shine a light on the horrors of abortion. One of the ways he has done so is by speaking candidly about how abortions are performed – highlighting their brutality.
Watch Dr Levatino speaking at the SPUC Youth Conference.
Sara had been heavily involved in protests in Brazil promoting abortion with the radical feminist group, FEMEN. She had an abortion herself, but suffered severe complications and nearly bled to death.
In 2015, she gave birth to a child. This changed everything for her. She was so affected by the experience, that she wrote a book exposing the practices of FEMEN and speaking against abortion. Of her own abortion, she said: "I regret having an abortion and today I'm asking for forgiveness ... I don't want [others] to go through the same thing I did ... [F]eminism should be focusing more on taking care of women instead of putting their lives at risk".
Read more here:
The experiences of people who previously dedicated their lives to promoting abortion are an important witness to the pro-life cause. Their courage in the face of significant challenges should inspire us all to fight for the rights of the unborn.
If you have been affected by work in the abortion industry, there is help. You can contact the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline at 0845 603 8501.
28 March 2019
by Margaret Akers
It can often be difficult to know where to start with pro-life activism. We learned so many wonderful and challenging pro-life things, but how do we put it in to practice? How do we use our own talents to defend the most vulnerable?
We’ve put together a list of a few things you could get involved in to kick-start your future as a pro-life activist.
SPUC has branches around the country that are the back bone of our pro-life campaigning – and they need your help. Branches organise letter writing to politicians, host events and fundraisers, and leaflet in their communities. They are the heart of local, grassroots activism.
Sometimes it might be difficult for you to go out and be involved in pro-life activism. Thankfully, we live in a technological age, and you can be a pro-life activist from your own home! If you went to Alithea’s workshop, you would have learned how to have a pro-life conversation on social media. In addition to social media, there are other ways to be involved in the pro-life movement online. If you sign up to the SPUC email list, you will be notified of different actions and will be kept up to date on current events. You can also sign and share petitions or open letters – a fantastic way to have your say without having to leave the couch!
The Project Truth Roadshow is a fantastic way to put everything you learned at the SPUC Youth Conference in to action. It is a week-long road trip around Scotland, going out into various cities to educate people about the development of unborn babies in the womb. Not only do you have the opportunity to hone your pro-life apologetics by having real conversations, but you also get to spend a week with fantastic pro-life young people who will be your friends for life!
Consider in engaging in pro-life activism on your campus! If you went to the workshop hosted by the Alliance of Pro-Life Students, we’re sure you were inspired to bring the pro-life conversation to your University. If you’re lucky enough to go to a University that already has a pro-life society, be sure to get involved. If not, why not consider starting a pro-life society yourself? APS will be happy to help you every step of the way.
To learn more about APS, visit their website.
Not in university? Not to worry – you can bring the pro-life message to your school or college. Why not start a pro-life club for yourself and your peers? Or maybe you could approach your school about hosting a SPUC speaker.
Now it’s up to you to bring the pro-life message to other young people!
The next big pro-life event in the UK is the March for Life on 11 May. Pro-life people from around the country come together to march on Parliament Square and make it clear that they stand for life.
The day starts with LifeFest – a day of talks and workshops to further inspire you. Then, everyone comes together to march through the streets of London, spreading the positive pro-life message of love and compassion. This year’s theme is #irreplaceable.
For more information and to book your tickets to LifeFest, visit the March for Life UK website.
We were so pleased to see so many passionate young people at the SPUC Youth Conference – and cannot wait to see the great contributions you will all bring to the pro-life movement! Do not be afraid to get involved – there is a space for everyone in the movement and our different talents are our strength. We cannot wait to see you again at next year’s youth conference, and to hear about all the amazing work you’ve been up to!
Be a #voiceforthevoiceless.
We must defend all the rights of people with Down's syndrome, especially the right to life.
On World Down’s syndrome Day, we appreciate and acknowledge all that the Down’s syndrome community brings to our society. Unfortunately, it is also a day in which the hypocrisy of many becomes apparent. Many will take this time to speak of diversity and inclusion of those with Down’s syndrome – despite also promoting a discriminatory practice which targets those with disabilities.
The oozing hypocrisy baffles me. Our society is, rightly, preoccupied with promoting human rights - especially for those with a disability. I only wish that those campaigning for the inclusion of members of the disability community would be consistent in their efforts and join us in campaigning for the rights of those same people BEFORE birth also! This pretence, which sees our society prioritise the care and support of the lives of those with disabilities, whilst discarding pre-born disabled lives to abortion can be highlighted by recent events in the cosmetics industry.
At the beginning of 2019, model Kate Grant (who has Down’s syndrome) became a Brand Ambassador for Benefit Cosmetics. This may appear to mark a societal step forward for the inclusion of those with Down’s syndrome, particularly in an industry marked by superficiality. The decision by Benefit Cosmetics, however, is undermined by the fact that the brand is set to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood - an abortion provider which specialises in the widespread killing of the unwanted and "imperfect"- including those with conditions like Down’s syndrome. Annually, Planned Parenthood kills 300,000 unborn babies. Benefit Cosmetics recently announced that every May, 100% of its brow waxing fees will go straight to Planned Parenthood. In this move, Benefit is promoting and funding the killing of those who they claim to represent with their new brand ambassador. Alas, it appears that the cosmetic industry only appreciates the value and beauty of human life, in all its diversity, AFTER birth.
Abortion for any reason is a tragedy. However, abortion law which is specifically targets particular demographics of people is discriminatory, dangerous, and cruel - and this is exactly what UK abortion law promotes.
Currently in the UK, an unborn baby diagnosed with a disability – including Down’s syndrome - can be aborted at any stage of pregnancy. Each year in the United Kingdom, 90% of those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb will be aborted. In 2017, 655 unborn British children were aborted because of a Down’s syndrome diagnosis. We have become a nation obsessed with screening for perfection and targeting those who fail to meet the criteria - 46 perfect chromosomes.
It is these shallow ideals of perfection which can mean life or death for unborn children with disabilities. Why is it that many of those who would rightly demand disability rights would also demand the right to abort those with disabilities? Surely this blatant hypocrisy is spotted by others.
When the First Minster of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, states: "We have got to listen to people with Down’s syndrome, as she did in 2018, I can only laugh in shock and disbelief. How do public figures expect to hear those with Down’s syndrome when only a small percentage of them are ever born, because of the policy of their own government? These discriminatory practices are not lost on many in the Down’s syndrome community – in fact, many of the most outspoken opponents of the law have Down’s syndrome.
"Keys to Life" is Scotland’s learning disability strategy "based on a commitment to human rights for people with learning disabilities". The strategy states: "People with learning disabilities should be treated with dignity, respect and understanding. They should be able to play a full part in their communities and live independent lives free from bullying, fear and harassment".
The hypocrisy is truly sickening. In what way could a government possibly preach about treating those with a learning disability with "dignity" and "respect" whilst promoting the dismemberment of those same people in the womb? Is it some sort of dark irony that the only human right "Keys to life" will not fight for is the basic right to life?
This World Down’s Syndrome Day, speak up for unborn children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. Stand up in defence of their unique and important contribution to our society. Defend all of their rights, most importantly the right to life. Be their true ally.