Sex Selected Abortions in Britain: What Does the CPS Decision Mean?

 

As an American, I find British law confusing, which, I expect is equally true of the British when they try to consider American law.

My understanding of the current legal situation concerning sex selected abortion in Britain is, to put it in American terms, that the agency charged with enforcing the statute has determined that it is, if a single loophole is followed, unenforceable.

The decision was based on a request for prosecution of two doctors who agreed to perform a sex selected abortion that was part of an undercover operation by a British newspaper. The exception on which the decision not to prosecute these two doctors was based is a provision in British law that allows abortions for reason of the baby’s gender whenever two physicians certify that “continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman or any existing children of her family.”

That sounds very much like the health of the mother exceptions that have allowed terminations of pregnancies right up until the baby is born here in the US. In fact, it sounds as if sex-selected abortion was already legal in Britain, even before the Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute under this law. If that is true, and the law I’ve seen reads like it is, then the CPS decision was a formality.

The report from the CPS talks about the difficulty the prosecution would face proving that the doctors in question were acting in bad faith. It describes this situation as “a narrow basis for any prosecution.”

Because of these things, the CPS declined to prosecute the two doctors in question. It also, so far as I understand these things, gave an explanation as to why any prosecutions for sex-selected abortion would be extremely unlikely.

In America, we would say that the CPS had made a de facto decision legalizing same-sex abortion in Britain. I’ve read comments, including a circular and  mush-mouthed statement from the Prime Minster, saying that there is no such thing as a de facto decision in British law. That leaves me wondering what they call it.

If the agency charged with enforcing a law says that they won’t enforce it because it is unenforceable, then it sounds to me like this agency has, de facto, repealed the law. In addition, if the quotations supplied by the CPS in their discussions of this decision are both accurate and inclusive of the British law on sex selected abortion, I think they are probably right. This law is unenforceable except in the rare case where a doctor is stupid enough to do a sex-selected abortion without getting another doctor to sign off on it for him or her.

So far as I know, there has not been any legislation passed in Britain formally legalizing sex-selected abortion. However, when the agency charged with enforcing a law says that they will not enforce it because the law is unenforceable, then it sounds like it’s been repealed to me.

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Britian’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, affirmed this even as he denied it when he answered a question that included the statement “a female fetus in the womb today is more vulnerable than she was last week” by saying

… But in our country we do have independent prosecuting authorities. It’s very importance that they look at the evidence and they make a decision on the basis of likelihood of getting a conviction and the public interest in making a case and taking it to court. That’s how things have to work in our country, but I share her concern about what we’ve read and what has happened and it’s absolutely right that professional action should be considered as well.

For those who aren’t fluent in the language, that’s political-speak for “Yes.”

The facts as I know them — and I will be happy to write about any difference in facts as they pop up — is that sex selected abortion is now free of the threat of prosecution in Britain so long as two doctors sign off on the sex selected abortion in accordance with the parameters established under the law.

I would guess that it is possible that this law will be re-written to make it enforceable in the future. However, that may not happen. I can not predict.

Quotes from CPS communications about the decision, as well as links to the original documents, are below:

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According to a letter from Keir Starmer, who is the Director of Public prosecutions to Dominic Grieve, MP, the loophole in the law is that:

The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination. 

… the discretion afforded to doctors under the current law in assessing the risk to the mental or physical health of a patient is wide and, having consulted an experienced consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it appears that there is no generally accepted approach among the medical profession.

There is also the difficulty that, on its face, the HSA/1 form which doctors are required to use to certify their assessment of a patient, does not require them to see or examine the patient before forming a view. Against that background, it would be very difficult for a jury to assess what may or may not be an “adequate” assessment by the doctor and there is a real risk that different juries would reach different decisions on essentially the same facts. 

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The Crown Prosecution Service followed this letter with a more extensive analysis of the situation on their web site(emphasis mine):

Procuring a miscarriage is an offence contrary to section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. However, section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 provides that a person should not be guilty of an offence when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, inter alia, that “the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family”.

Thus the law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather, it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks (mental or physical) of continuance outweigh those of termination. This gives a wide discretion to doctors in assessing the health risks of a pregnant patient.

The BMA’s Handbook of Ethics and Law, published in February 2012, gives the following guidance, which is the same as guidance published in 2007:

Abortion on the grounds of fetal sex

 

Fetal sex is not one of the criteria for abortion listed in the Abortion Act and therefore termination on this ground alone has been challenged as out with the law. There may be circumstances, however, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful. It has been suggested that if two doctors, acting in good faith, formed the opinion that the pregnant woman’s health, or that of her existing children, would be put at greater risk than if she terminated the pregnancy, the abortion would arguably be lawful under section 1(1) (a) of the Abortion Act. (see page 283) [Morgan D (2001) Issues in medical law and ethics, Cavendish Publishing, London, pp147-9]. The Association believes that it is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of fetal sex alone, except in cases of severe sex-linked disorders. The pregnant woman’s views about the effect of the sex of the fetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered. In some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination. They should be prepared to justify the decision if challenged.” [p.287]

… The prosecution would have to be in a position to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assessments carried out by the doctors was carried out in bad faith or carried out in such a way that fell below a standard which any reasonable doctor would consider adequate. In the absence of any considered medical guidance it is extremely difficult for the prosecution to undertake this exercise. Equally, it would be very difficult for a jury to assess what may or may not be an “adequate” assessment by the doctor. 

It is questionable whether the interests of justice are served in bringing a prosecution where such levels of uncertainty exist.  In the absence of guidance a jury would have no yardstick by which they could measure the conduct of any doctor facing prosecution.  Where there is such uncertainty there is a serious risk that different juries would reach different decisions on essentially the same facts.

… As with the evidential stage of the Code test, the public interest in this case is finely balanced. But, if the narrow basis of any prosecution is kept firmly in mind, the public interest factors against prosecution outweigh those in favour. In reaching this conclusion, we fully consulted with the police who agreed with us about the public interest.

For additional information check out Frank Weathers at Why I Am Catholic.

UK Legalizes Sex Selected Abortions

 

It began — at least for me — when Public Catholic reader Manny shared this link.

That led me to a google search where I found links from

National Right to Life

Belfast Telegraph

Susan B Anthony List

Zenit

Breitbart

Statement from the Crown Prosecution Service

all of which say that Manny’s link is correct. The UK has done one of those this-is-how-we-interpret-the-law laws that now allows doctors to perform sex-selected abortions.

I’m not going to comment about this right now. I feel like somebody hit me and I need to get my breath back.

However, just for your reading pleasure, I’ll include one last link. It’s from a “feminist” group explaining how killing baby girls is … well … too “complex” to be illegal. They think that it’s basically ok so long as it’s the woman’s choice to kill her baby because the baby is a little girl.

That’s feminism???

To paraphrase Lily Tomlin, I try to be cynical folks. But I just can’t keep up.

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Yale University Holds First-Ever Pro-Life Conference

 

According to a first-person account from LifeNews.com, Yale University recently held it’s first pro life conference. The conference was called Vita et Veritas.

The event was hosted by Choose Life at Yale, the campus pro life group. Speakers included representatives from the American Life League, Feminists for Life, and Secular Pro life.

From LifeNews.com:

This past weekend, CLAY hosted the first pro-life conference at Yale, called “Vita et Veritas” which means “life and truth” in Latin. Vita et Veritas is a conference that seeks to make the pro-life vision intelligible on college campuses. The event took place at the St. Thomas Moore Chapel with speakers who represented different pro-life perspectives on abortion.

Some of the speakers included Clark Forsythe from Americans United for Life; Hardley Arkes, a faculty member of Amherst College, who was the main architect of the bill that became know as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and author of the book Natural Rights and the Right to Choose“; William L. Saunders, Senior VP for Legal Affairs at Americans United for Life; and Matt Bennett, founder and president of the Christian Union. The full list of speakers and their bios can be foundhere.

The conference had an interfaith panel that discussed the importance of cooperation in the pro-life community between religious and secular groups. This panel included Suzy Ismail from the Center for Muslim Life and Secular Pro-Life President Kelsey Hazzard. Ismail said that many Muslims don’t speak out against abortion, despite having pro-life views. She has been told herself to not talk about abortion when she’s spoken at Muslim conferences. Yet she believes that Muslims have a responsibility to speak out on the issue of abortion. Secular Pro-Life President Hazzard says there are 6 million Americans who are non-religious and pro-life. She represents their voice as she seeks to raise awareness.

Sally Winn, Vice President of Feminists for Life, was also a guest speaker. She gave a talk entitled “Refuse to Choose: Reclaiming Feminism,” in which she discussed how she became pregnant while in college and kept her child. Winn acknowledged how hard it was raising a child in college, with little support, no day care for undergraduates, and no changing tables at the university.

She discussed Yale’s basic health plan, which fully covers abortions yet doesn’t cover the costs of most deliveries. She stated that a student could have to pay $400 out of pocket for a delivery even with “Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage.” Those conditions make it much easier for students to abort than give birth to their children.

Winn is advocating the need for universities to improve their resources so mothers on campus will feel the freedom to have children on campus. She told the Yale Daily News, “I think the future is really bright if we focus on what women need[.] … In my daughter’s lifetime it will be more commonplace for pregnant women to be on college campuses.”

Southern Baptist Convention Files Suit Against HHS Mandate


The Southern Baptist Convention has joined dozens of other religious organizations by filing suit against the Obama adminstration’s HHS Mandate. Southern Baptists are the second largest denomination in America, with over 16 million members.

My question: Where are you Marymount Loyola?

From the CBN News:

The Obama administration has said churches and a narrowly defined category of religious organizations are exempt. But the administration is still threatening devastating penalties to many other ministry organizations, like Christian colleges, missions organizations, and family ministries.

“The government’s refusal to treat these ministries as ‘religious employers’ is senseless,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a written statement.

“These people spend their lives teaching and preaching their religious faith – if they do not qualify as ‘religious employers,’ the government needs to get a new definition,” Rienzi said.

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Doctor Urged John Paul II’s Mother to Abort Him

 

We owe a great deal to Emilia Kaczorowska.

Emilia Kaczorowska is the mother of Blessed John Paul II. According to a new book, The Mother of the Pope, her doctor advised her to abort the future pope when she was pregnant with him. Evidently, she suffered from the after-affects of rheumatic fever, which often include damage to the heart valves.

In the days before antibiotics, rheumatic fever was fairly common. Damage to the heart valves was treated mostly by bed rest and efforts not to strain the heart. Pregnancy, as anyone knows, puts a strain on the entire body. I would guess that this is what led the doctor to advise abortion to the pope’s mother.

It almost certainly was not a trivial suggestion, and the possible consequences were extreme. It takes courage for anyone to risk their life for another person. That includes mothers who are willing to die for their children.

Emilia Kaczorowska refused the doctor’s advice and gave birth to a baby boy that she and her husband named Karol. She survived the pregnancy, but died nine years later, leaving the little boy without a mother. I’ve often thought that Pope John Paul’s intense closeness to Our Lady may have begun with his longing for the earthly mother he lost when he was a little boy.

Blessed John Paul II was a great pope. Among other things, his fearless stand for the sanctity of human life ennobled and empowered a worldwide resistance to the evils of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and the many ways in which humanity attacks the dignity and value of those who can’t fight back.

Judging by his mother’s courageous determination to give him life, the apple did not fall far from the tree.

From LifeNews.com:

A new report out today suggests Pope John Paul II’s mother rejected an abortion when pregnant with him.

Under the headline “Blessed John Paul II was in danger of not being born,” the Vatican Insider web site says the information was revealed by Milena Kindziuk in the book just came out.

The report suggests that the future Pope John Paul II was in danger of not being born because of the precarious state of health of his mother Emilia Kaczorowska. The book, “The Mother of the Pope,” indicates Emilia Kaczorowska, married in 1905 with Karol Wojtyla, the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, rejected an abortion.

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Australia: Doctor Could Lose His License for Refusing to do Sex-Selected Abortion

How do you define inconsistent?

Pro abortion people fought a bill we passed here in Oklahoma that was an attempt to discourage sex-selected abortions. Their excuse for fighting the legislation was that it was unnecessary, since no one wants a sex-selected abortion and no doctor would do them, anyway.

Half a world away, in Australia, a doctor is facing the loss of his medical license because he refused to do a sex-selected abortion or refer for a sex-selected abortion on a woman who was 19 weeks pregnant. According to a National Catholic Register article, the woman and her husband had decided to kill their unborn baby when they found out she was a little girl.

Now the doctor — not the couple — is under investigation by the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency.

So … which is it pro abortion advocates? Are we working the side of the argument where a woman has a “right” to kill her baby because it’s a little girl and anyone who refuses to participate in this is going to be punished, or are we pretending that such things don’t happen, which means there should be no laws against it?

Maybe it’s just a matter of which argument is most likely to keep abortion on demand absolutely unregulated and unlimited — except for medical practitioners’ right to say “no,” that is.

From the National Catholic Register:

MELBOURNE, Australia — A Catholic doctor in Australia could face suspension or the loss of his license for refusing to refer a couple who sought the sex-based abortion of their unborn daughter.

“I refused to refer the patient because there was no medical reason to do it, and it offended my moral conscience,” Dr. Mark Hobart told Nine News Australia.

“It’s very wrong, I don’t know any doctor in Victoria that would be willing to refer a woman who wanted to have an abortion just because of gender at 19 weeks.”

The 55-year-old doctor, who lives in the Australian state of Victoria, has practiced medicine for 27 years. He said the pregnancy was “well advanced.”

The married couple had asked Hobart to refer them to an abortion facility 19 weeks into the woman’s pregnancy, when they discovered they were having a girl but wanted a boy.

For the last five months, Hobart has faced an investigation from the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/australian-doctor-could-lose-license-for-refusing-sex-based-abortion?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-14%2008:42:01#ixzz2hjm91QgU

The HHS Mandate and the Government Shutdown

I met Dr Alveda King a few years ago when she spoke at our annual Pro Life Rose Day celebration at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

She was shuffled from one event to another like someone on a conveyor belt, which means that I know she does not remember either me or most of the many people she met that day.  Perhaps her most important meeting was a closed-door discussion she had with leaders of Oklahoma’s African American community. That discussion resonates in the hearts of people I know who were there. It affected them, and they are still turning what she said over in their minds.

That, I think is the point. Conversion is not usually a spoing! moment, but a process. Even when it seems to happen all at once, it’s been coming for quite a while. My own conversion experience is an example of that. I know from personal conversations that some of the people who heard Dr King speak are slowly being converted by what she said as they think about it in time.

I respect Dr King and I take her opinions seriously. That is why I am linking to an article she wrote about the government shut down and the HHS Mandate. I don’t fully agree with what she says.

It’s her opinion that the shutdown is entirely about the HHS Mandate. I don’t think so. If that was what the shut down was about, then that would be the issue. Frankly, if that was what the shutdown was about, the shutdown would probably be over and the HHS Mandate would be history. It is because the demands leading to the shutdown were broadened that the thing has been such a stand-off.

However, I do know that the HHS Mandate is on the table, along with other considerations. I view the HHS Mandate as the government, waging war on the First Amendment. I advocate doing whatever legitimate actions are necessary to get the president to rescind this mandate. Failing that, I advocate fighting the mandate in the courts. Failing that, I advocate and will participate in a protracted and unyielding fight to repeal the mandate by social and political means.

If the mandate was the only issue, I would support this shutdown without reservation, even though I honestly fear the path we are taking with these disruptions of government. This brinksmanship will push things to a breaking point one of these days, and that has the potential to bring down horrific consequences for this country.

For all these reasons, I am more confused than anything else about our government today. I don’t think there’s a genuine leader or a whole-hearted patriot in the whole thing. I certainly do not trust the leadership of either political party.

I just gave you my opinion about this, which differs somewhat from Dr King’s.

However, I think her opinion is worth reading and considering as we think about both this shutdown and the continuous threat of shutdowns that seems to be how our government is doing business lately.

From CP Opinion:

BY ALVEDA KING
October 9, 2013|9:54 am

“For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth. Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.”
 Jeremiah 9:21 NLT

America, not only do our children not play in the streets, they shoot each other in the classrooms. Don’t think that anyone is safe just because some of us can afford gated mansions, armored cars, private schools and the like. None of us are exempt from the times, including the looming shut down.

Tragically, some of our government leaders are using scare tactics to numb our consciences, to instill fear in us and turn our hearts away from genuine justice.

Please make no mistake about it, the government shutdown is about the HHS Mandate which if allowed will force harmful contraceptives and easy access to abortion on our boys and girls.

Pro Choice Thinking from the Streets

Live Action is at it again. This fascinating set of on the street interviews reveal just how naive and confused people still are about abortion.

It’s interesting that after all this time people are so confused. But, in a way, it’s also hopeful. Their hearts are good. That shows in each of these people. The reasons they give for supporting abortion are based on a naive understanding of the issue and a desire to find justice for women. These people are not evil.

Their impulse to help women is exactly right on. Their understanding of the humanity of an unborn baby and the drastic brutality of abortion itself is what is faulty.

There is much evil in the abortion fight, but that evil is higher (or lower, depending on how you look at it) up the food chain. It rests with the hardened advocates and practitioners who have become pro abortion instead of pro woman. Even with them, conversion and a radical change of heart is possible. In fact, it happens quite a lot.

Pope Francis is right. We need to love these people, even as we continue the work to stop abortion. We need also to work to end the injustices and cruelty that make abortion seem like an inevitable choice to so many people in the first place.

Watch these and learn.

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and finally …

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Oh Good Grief

I stand corrected.

I wrote yesterday that the trustees of Marymount Loyola University — a Jesuit-run, Catholic university — voted that the school would not provide abortion coverage as part of their employee insurance plans.

I read today that while they had indeed voted to not provide abortion coverage in their employee insurance plans, they also voted to provide aide in helping employees find coverage that will pay for their abortions. I don’t know if this is in response to the threats of at least one faculty member to “consider legal action” or not.

But I do know it’s a faux following of Church teachings.

What is so almighty tough about taking a stand? Hobby Lobby did it. Organizations and institutions, both Catholic and non-Catholic, all over this country are doing it.

What makes this Catholic university so precious that it can’t stand for the sanctity of human life?

The trustees’ logic in handing down this decision says a lot:

“We acknowledge that the issue of abortion is extremely complicated and encompasses varied and competing values that often leave no one happy,” Burcham and Aikenhead stated. “Nonetheless, we believe that the right to life and dignity for every human being is a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs (all other rights flow from this primary right to life and dignity) and that this vision needs to be evidenced in LMU’s policies and procedures.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFDWmTGB

I know — and I mean I know full-well and from hard personal experience — just how tough it can be to take a stand for life. When people claim for themselves the right to kill other people, it does something to them. They become ruthless, focused on their ends with no regard to the means. They will do anything they can get away with to anyone who opposes them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this hate, and I can tell you, it scalds.

That is no doubt what this Catholic university faced.

It is what pro life people face all over this country.

But this Mr Wishy Meet Ms Washy decision still stinks.

It’s one of those I-don’t-believe-in-abortion-personally-but-I-won’t-impose-that-on-anyone-else politically correct word salad decisions. When a politician does it, they are pilloried. But when a Jesuit (priests) school does it, then, it’s …. what???

If this is our leadership, how can anyone expect those of us who are just pew-sitting Catholics to follow the Church? If Church institutions tuck tail and run, then who is going to stand?

Are we supposed to lead from the pews?

There are days when I feel that the Church is asking the laity to step forward and lead the charge for Christ while we also have to step around the Catholic leaders in Catholic institutions as they run past us, heading for the rear.

Telling people that you won’t directly pay for an abortion, but that you’ll be happy to call around and find someone else who will pay for it, is not taking a pro life stand.

Catholics have a right to expect greater integrity and authenticity than this from Catholic institutions and Catholics in official and quasi official Church leadership positions.

From the National Catholic Register:

The board of trustees at Loyola Marymount University has handed down a Solomonic decision in the controversy over the university’s abortion coverage that may end up leaving few happy. Although the board confirmed LMU will no longer provide health plans that cover elective abortion, the Jesuit university will help employees find alternative plans that do.

The board held an Oct. 7 meeting to discuss the decision to drop elective abortion coverage from all LMU health plans starting Jan. 1, 2014.  Board chairman Kathleen Aikenhead and LMU’s president, David Burcham, revealed that the board had ratified that decision, but stated that it would not affect coverage for “therapeutic abortions, contraception and other forms of reproductive care mandated by the state of California.”

The board also added that LMU would select a “Third Party Administrator (TPA)-managed plan” for employees seeking abortion coverage.

“The employee will be responsible for the entirety of the cost associated with this additional coverage and, thus, no LMU dollars will be used in paying for this additional coverage,” the letter from Aikenhead and Burcham stated.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFAYxqtk

Culture of Death News

Buckle your seat belts.

The list below contains a few headlines from the culture of death. Look at them and remember why we fight this fight.

 

Wendy Davis, winner of the Texas pro choice filibuster, runs for Governor

UK Takes Step Toward Three-Parent Babies

Belgian Transsexual Dies of Euthanasia After Botched Sex Change Surgery

Number of Dutch Deaths by Euthanasia Rises by 13% 

 

Abortion  Contracts and $45,000 for abortions

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