Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 11
No. 10
November, 2017
 
Featured News
Abortion drug to be pulled from French market
In a major blow to pro-abortion activists, Pfizer will withdraw the abortion-inducing drug Misoprostol sold by the brand name Cytotec from French markets next March 1. Misoprostol belongs to a group of medicines called prostaglandins which induce contractions of the cervix and in abortion forcibly expel the developing child from the safety of the womb. The off label use of Misoprostol, originally developed and registered to treat ulcers, is promoted around the world for abortion in illegal settings.
 
The peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet reported the news in Misoprostol drug to be withdrawn from French market and explains that the action "follows a number of reports of serious side-effects from offlabel use of the drug to induce childbirth and medical abortions." The article reported that the US pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer "did not explain why it is taking the drug off the market in France or whether it plans to do the same elsewhere. The company takes its "decisions on a case-by-case basis" and "made [this] decision for France in full agreement with the ANSM [the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety]". Misoprostol is sold in 79 countries.
 
It also reported that Alain-Michel Ceretti, president of France Assos Santé, an umbrella organization for 75 French patients associations, stated that 94% of Cytotec prescriptions in France are off label and in regards to abortion Cytotec costs less than alternative drugs.
 
The president ofthe French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety, ANSM, Director General Dominique Martin, expressed his concern that the splitting of Cytotec tablets to obtain the recommended dose for abortion results in "a risk of overdoes" and that "off-label prescriptions increase the risk of side-effects by 50%, but that under French law, the agency 'cannot police practices [...] we cannot ban what is not permitted'."
 
Ceretti is urging the government to "make off-label prescriptions an offence when the ANSM has clearly established that a drug is dangerous if used for any purpose other than that for which it is authorised. He is also calling for Health Minister Agnès Buzyn to ask the Social Affairs General Inspectorate to investigate the Cytotec case."
 
This news confirms long-standing pro-life concerns about the dangers of Misoprostol and the actions of pro-abortion organizations that advise women to use the drug for illegal abortion due to its availability despite knowing of its dangerous side-effects.
 
Women on Waves, acknowledges on its website that Misoprostol can cause heavy blood loss and advises that "Misoprostol should only be used when transportation within a few hours to a hospital is possible."
 
International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) explains why misoprostol is the abortion drug of choice: "Because mifepristone [RU486] is a registered abortion drug, its sale and use are not permitted in most countries with restrictive abortion laws. In contrast, misoprostol is an anti-ulcer medication that is registered under various trade names in more than 85 countries." 
 
PNCI hopes that Pzifer will extend its actions in France and its concern for women's health and lives to other countries where Cytotec is promoted and used off label for abortion.
Defending Life
MPs defend unborn children's right to life
Statements from groups of pro-life parliamentarians were among the 160 or so submissions made to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as it considers the Draft General Comment No. 36 Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 6 of the ICCPR "recognizes and protects the right to life of all human beings" and asserts that it "is most precious for its own sake as a right that inheres in every human being..." but the HRC Draft promotes abortion.
 
It proposes: States parties must provide safe access to abortion to protect the life and health of pregnant women, and in situations in which carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the foetus suffers from fatal impairment. States parties may not regulate pregnancy or abortion in a manner that runs contrary to their duty to ensure that women do not have to undertake unsafe abortions."
 
In response, pro-life lawmakers reminded the HRC that respect for life is recognized as beginning at conception and that Article 6 does not allow for exceptions to the right to life of unborn children as the Draft proposes. Pro-abortion organizations including Amnesty International recommended that the HRC "clarify that the right to life applies only after birth."
 
More from PNCI can be found here.
 
Health plan victory for Christian organizations
The Trump administration settled lawsuits with over 300 Christian-run or owned organization and businesses that had been fighting the Obamacare mandate that required inclusion of abortion-causing drugs in employee health insurance plans.
 
Five years ago Priests for Life, which includes PNCI, filed a religious liberty lawsuit over the mandate. Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, rejoiced at the victory and expressed his thanks to the Trump administration, "The protracted war on religious freedom launched by the Obama administration through its HHS mandate is finally over - and freedom has won a complete victory! Today, the Trump administration has done what the Obama administration could have and should have been done five years ago - respect the rights of Americans to practice their faiths."
 
"The HHS mandate that gave Priests for Life the choice between helping to provide abortions or paying crushing financial penalties was really no choice at all," added Fr. Pavone.  "No American should ever be forced to choose between following his/her faith and following the law. We would never be complicit in the taking of human life, and the Obama administration knew it. I praise God that the Trump administration has ended this attack on all religious faiths."
US: HHS acknowledges life beginning at conception
US: HHS acknowledges life beginning at conception
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new strategic plan for fiscal 2018-22 that states its mission is to serve and protect Americans "at every stage of life, beginning at conception." The acknowledgement that life begins at conception reflects a change in policy for the federal agency under President Trump.
 
The plan will also ensure that faith-based organizations are not blocked from participation in HHS-funded or conducted activities or encounter barriers or burdens because of religious beliefs and/or moral convictions.
 
HHS commitments include to "Protect women and their unborn children from harm and harmful exposures during pregnancy, and promote recommended protective prenatal and postpartum behaviors" and to "Improve human subjects protection, and enforcement of human subjects protection regulations and other laws governing research, especially with respect to research involving human embryos or embryonic stem cells/tissue, fetal tissue, genetic engineering and manipulation of the germ cell, and the creation of chimeras." 
October: Raising Awareness of Down Syndrome
This October marked Down Syndrome Awareness Month, celebrating the lives of individuals with Down syndrome around the world highlighting the valuable contributions these individuals bring to their families and communities. Earlier this year, the world took notice as a report on Iceland declared the country had "basically eradicated" Down syndrome, as nearly 100 percent of unborn babies diagnosed are aborted. In a stirring testimony in a US House Subcommittee, Frank Stephens told members, "I am a man with Down syndrome, and my life is worth living!" The Quincy Jones Advocate at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation eloquently described the significant contributions people with Down syndrome bring to the world and lamented the dangerous practice of aborting babies with Down syndrome, equating it to the Nazi's 'Final Solution'. "Seriously, I don't feel I should have to justify my existence," said Stephens.
International day of the girl child-inequality starts before birth
Acknowledgement that discrimination against girls begins in its most deadly form before birth through sex selection abortion divides individuals and organizations who profess to be for "women's rights". The UK online news source, The Guardian, often reports from a pro-abortion viewpoint but on October 11, International Day of the Girl, posted a vide entitled International Day of the Girl: how inequality starts before birth.
 
The video overview states "On International Day of the Girl, we look at the challenges of our unequal world, with girls facing discrimination from the moment of conception through education, health, marriage and employment. World leaders have promised to achieve gender equality by 2030 - but at the current rate of progress this will take more than 100 years."
 
PNIC notes that acknowledgement that unborn girl babies in the womb face discrimination is an important step in ensuring equal treatment for girls throughout their lives.
International Pressure for Abortion
Pan Africa Parliament and Ipas agree to promote abortion
The Pan Africa Parliament (PAP) of the African Union reports that during its recent meeting in Midland, South Africa the PAP "gave impetus to the promotion of safe and legal abortions by dedicating several debates to the topic, and signing a Memorandum of Understanding with reproductive activist group, the Ipas Africa Alliance."
 
As an abortion activist group, Ipas performs abortion, promotes abortion, and trains health-care workers in abortion techniques. It has long been engaged with officials at the African Union and African Commission to promote access to abortion, as well as working with various national health ministries. The PAP press release details that it was through Ipas that PAP first committed to promotion of abortion in July 2015 "when members of its health, labour and social affairs committee jointly discussed maternal mortality and morbidity of unsafe abortions in Africa with the committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability, in partnership with Ipas."
 
During the parliamentarians' meeting, Hon Zalikatou Diallo from Guinea-Conakry-a frequent attendee at IPPF sponsored parliamentarian meetings-presented the use of an abortion advocacy toolkit and urged lawmakers to pursue a "human rights- based approach" to change laws on abortion. The advocacy toolkit "outlines the challenges and gaps within existing legal frameworks and addresses the roles of PAP members in promoting safe and legal abortions domestically" and "gives practical guidance on how to engage stakeholders in the process of decriminalising abortion and provide advocacy strategies for reproductive health reform at national level."
 
Not all parliamentarians were in agreement with the pro-abortion agenda. Ugandan MPs Hons. Anifa Kawooya and Jacquiline Amongin objected and defended Uganda's pro-life position.
 
MP Kawooya informed the PAP legislators of Uganda's position on abortion, saying that whether safe or legal, in the African context, the practice is frowned upon. "I am a strong advocate for women's rights but when it comes to abortion, I have very strong reservations. This is an area where we need deep thought. I want to disassociate myself and my country, from this advocacy tool," she said.

Read more from PNCI about the meeting.
 
UK: 50 Years of Legalized Abortion
October 27, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act which legalized abortion in England, Scotland and Wales. At the time, the law was presented as only being for extreme and rare circumstances, however, time soon demonstrated that the slippery slope of legalized abortion was far from rare and performance of abortion grew into a lucrative industry. It is estimated twenty abortions are performed every hour in the UK, about one every three minutes.
 
Across the United Kingdom pro-life advocates remembered the over 8.8 million lives that have been lost due to the Abortion Act while members of Parliament and pro-lifers gathered at Parliament to hold a moment of silence.
 
Lord David Alton, Member of the House of Lords, began his speech, Truth Must Speak to Power, recalling the moment when abortion was legalized:
 
"50 years ago, at 11:05am on the morning of Friday the 27th of October 1967, the Speaker of the House of Commons declared that Royal Assent from Her Majesty the Queen had been given to David Steel's abortion Bill. The Abortion Act 1967 would come into effect six months later on the 27th of April 1968.
 
Lord Alton ended his remarks with a message that resonates with all who are engaged in the human rights struggle of our time:
 
"I have been in this battle for decades of my life, and I may never see the day when the abolition of abortion occurs. But I know that one day it will, and to the next generation, I say: I don't want you to be standing here in another 50 years lamenting another 8 million lives lost. The torch of compassion and human progress is now passing to you.
 
"We must work to end this killing in your lifetime, and we can only do that if every person here takes seriously the role they must play in making sure that this happens.
 
Alveda King, niece of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and Director of Priest's for Life's Civil Rights for the Unborn, also recorded a message on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act that was published in the UK's Catholic Herald entitled
'My uncle Martin stood up for human dignity. Pro-lifers must do the same today'. Seven years ago, she recalled, King told UK legislators that the pro-life movement is the "new civil rights movement."
 
"I see absolutely no difference between the denial of rights to people because of their skin color and the denial of rights to people because of their age or condition of dependency," she said in a pre-recorded statement released today. "There is no doubt that the pro-life movement is the civil rights movement of our century because it is the fundamental right of every one of every race to live. Of what use are all our other rights if we can simply choose to deny a person the right to be born in the first place?"
 
Read more here.
Focus on the United Nations
UN culture expert considers pro-life advocacy "extremism"
The Human Rights Committee's Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights presented her report to the General Assembly. Karima Bennoune states that "Fundamentalist and extremist ideologies and the movements and governments that espouse them seek to roll back the advances achieved in securing women's equality, aim to block further advances and try to penalize and stigmatize the women human rights defenders promoting such critical efforts."
 
Abortion is presented as a so-called "reproductive right" essential for women to enjoy cultural rights; the report quotes pro-abortion UN treaty bodies for support: "The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have found that denying women and girls contraception or abortion services, or forcing girls into early marriage, denies them the right to control their fertility and sexuality, which affects their full enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights, including access to education, on an equal basis with men."
 
The report is particularly critical of the Catholic Church and evangelicals referencing the 2016 report to the HRC on the impact of fundamentalism by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly that "religious fundamentalism often has a disproportionate impact upon the assembly and association rights of women" and that the report "cited pressure placed by the Catholic Church and evangelical movements on women's organizations in Latin America working for reproductive rights and health."
 
Pro-life advocacy in Latin America is also included in this report as an example of extreme "fundamentalism":"Across Latin America, fundamentalist and conservative civil society groups have often allied with fundamentalist churches to oppose sexual and reproductive rights, including by spreading false information concerning scientific knowledge in the field of reproductive health. (Source cited in the report: "Confidential submission from a federation of Latin American organizations")
 
Beyond the blatant distortion of religious beliefs, the report makes outrageous and unsubstantiated reports about the United States. Bennoune's writes in the report: "There has been a significant rise in hate speech and hate violence in the United States of America since the 2016 presidential elections, targeting inter alia, women,iincluding immigrant and minority women."
 
The Trump administration travel ban enacted as a counter-terrorism action is condemned in the report: "Extremists often harass and target female members of minority groups and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women as they seek to enjoy their equal cultural rights (see A/HRC/29/23 and A/HRC/19/41). They now try to prohibit the freedom of movement of entire national groups based on discriminatory approaches that penalize the victims of fundamentalism and extremism themselves." (A press release from the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights is cited as the source: OHCHR, "US travel ban: 'new policy breaches Washington's human rights obligations' -UN experts", 1 February 2017.)
 
In the concluding recommendations, the report includes a call for the repeal of "discriminatory laws and policies"-laws against abortion are often called 'discriminatory by UN entities. During a side event at the United Nations, Karima Bennoune stated, "This is a wake-up call for our times. We face a multidirectional global avalanche of misogyny, motivated by diverse fundamentalist and extremist ideologies. For the sake of all the daughters around the world, let us come together and take an unequivocal stand for women's equal cultural rights, to reverse this worrying trend."
Legislative News
US: House Committee Hears Testimony From Unborn Baby
The House Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 490, the Heartbeat Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions on unborn babies that have a detectable heartbeat, about six weeks gestation. Pro-life Rep. Steve King, the sponsor of the bill, showed the ultrasound of an 18-week unborn baby, illustrating the baby's blatant humanity and active heartbeat. "The question before us, since America has held the right to Life as a sacred right from God (endowed by their Creator), the question before us is not, "Can the Lives of innocent babies be taken in exercising the right to the Liberty of the mother?"  But rather, "At what instant does Life begin?" Science cannot precisely pinpoint the instant of conception but the ultrasound proves beyond any doubt that Life is present every time there is a Heartbeat," stated Rep King. Abortion advocates were reported to have looked away during the unborn child's "testimony".  
AU: Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Second Reading in Victoria's Upper House
Following a contentious and emotional debate, Victoria's Upper House has approved a bill to legalize euthanasia. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 would "provide for and regulate access to voluntary assisted dying and establish a Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board". Many MPs were in tears as they spoke of loved ones who had battled terminal illnesses. MP Inga Peulich told the legislature "I can't believe we're debating this". Peulich said, "I was sickened by the prospect and the thought that people might think they are committing a public service by facilitating death." The legislation had already passed the Lower House and will now go through committee scrutiny where several amendments are expected before it receives a third and final reading.
Ireland: Committee Votes to Repeal 8th Amendment Protecting the Unborn
The Oireachtas committee tasked with examining Ireland's abortion law has voted to change the 8th amendment of the constitution regarding the right to life. Irish law has protected the right to life from the moment of conception as equal to the life of the mother since the amendment was adopted in 1983. The joint parliamentary committee voted that Article 40.3.3 should not be retained in full by a vote of 15 to 3, with 2 abstaining. The Committee's decision recommends the country hold a referendum on the abortion law. The Irish government plans to hold the national vote next year.
Canada: Ontario Votes to Ban Pro-Life Sidewalk Counselors
The Canadian province of Ontario has approved a bill to ban pro-life protests and sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics. Bill 163 would create a "bubble zone" for 50 meters, and if requested up to 150 meters, around abortion clinics in Ontario, as well as hospitals and medical facilities that apply for it. Violators of the law could face a fine up to $5,000 and a six month jail sentence for a first offence, and a fine of $10,000 and up to one year in jail for a second offense. MPP Jack MacLaren of the Trillium Party was the only MMP who voted against the bill, standing up for the unborn as well as the right to free speech.
Judicial News
UK: Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Northern Ireland's Abortion Laws
The UK's Supreme Court will consider an appeal challenging Northern Ireland's pro-life laws, arguing they are incompatible with international human rights. The case centers on Sarah Wart, an Irish woman who traveled to England for an abortion after her unborn child received a life-limiting diagnosis. Northern Ireland protects the unborn child's right to life in all instances except the life of the mother. Challengers claim the law breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. The case is being brought forth by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) with support from a coalition of healthcare charities and women's rights groups who are intervening in the case. Liam Gibson with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told the BBC the Supreme Court hearing is "an attack on the life of unborn children, particularly the disabled".

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

In this issue:

 

Featured news

Abortion Drug to be Pulled from French Market

 

Defending Life

MPs Defend Unborn Children's Right to Life

Health Plan Victory for Christian Organizations

US: HHS Acknowledges Life Begins at Conception

October: Raising Awareness of Down Syndrome

International Day of the Girl Child-Inequality Starts Before Birth

 

International Pressure for Abortion

Pan Africa Parliament and Ipas sign MOU

UK: 50 Years of Legalized Abortion

 

Focus on the United Nations

UN Culture Expert Considers Pro-Life Advocacy "Extremism"

 

Legislative News

AU: Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Second Reading in Victoria's Upper House

Ireland: Committee Votes to Repeal 8th Amendment Protecting the Unborn

CAN: Ontario Votes to Ban Pro-Life Sidewalk Counselors

 

Judicial News

UK Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Northern Ireland's Abortion Laws