THE CATHOLIC HERALD JULY 27 2012
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Marie Stopes threatens pro-lifers with injunction
Good Counsel Network rejects abortion provider’s claim that activists are harassing pregnant women by offering them ‘baby pink’ rosaries
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A LEADING abortion chain is threatening to take out an injunction against pro-life activists to stop them from allegedly using “baby pink” rosary beads to harass pregnant women.
Marie Stopes International (MSI) has accused a small group of people who stage daily prayer vigils outside its central London clinic of causing distress to clients by handing out “baby pink and blue rosary beads”.
Lawyers have written to the Good Counsel Network, the largely Catholic pro-life counselling organisation that organises the vigils, to say that Marie Stopes will “seek all remedies as may be necessary, including injunctive relief” under Section 3A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
A lawyer’s letter from MSI accused protesters alleged that protestors approached clients with plastic foetuses, asking the client to pray for the foetus, have attempted to intimidate the clients by running up to them, have handed out baby pink and blue rosary beads and have handed out leaflets containing graphic images”.
They also accuse Good Counsel of attempting to “cuddle” clients, which they claim caused them “immense distress”, and claim that one client was physically injured while being pursued by a protester and that others were filmed entering the clinic. They also allege that Good Counsel is handing out leaflets with inaccurate information about the effects of abortion on women’s physical and psychological health and threatened to report the network to the Advertising Standards Authority.
But Clare McCullough, the director of Good Counsel Network, dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous”.
“It is nice that they mentioned ‘baby’ in reference to the rosary beads because they don’t use that word anywhere else,” she said.
Pro-lifers hold a peaceful prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic in Bedford Square, central London, in March Ian Nicholson/PA Wire
Between two and 13 people pray peacefully outside the Whitfield Street clinic each morning, she said, and no women have ever been filmed, photographed, cuddled, injured or harassed.
Pink and blue rosary beads were handed out to women willing to accept them, she added, as well as leaflets containing graphic but accurate images of abortion.
The result of the vigils, she said, is that Good Counsel is now giving financial assistance to about 25 women who changed their minds about going through with abortions.
“The spiritual element of the vigils is what disturbs many people because a lot of women going to the clinic are Christians themselves,” Mrs McCulloch said.
“This [complaint] is a sign that what we are doing does change women’s hearts and they [Marie Stopes] are worried about it,” she added. “If anyone would like to join the vigil they are very welcome.”
The threat of an injunction is being defended by the Thomas More Legal Centre, an organisation set up to defend religious liberty. Neil Addison, the director of the centre, has told Marie Stopes’s lawyers that the vigils are protected by human rights laws guaranteeing freedom of assembly and he has challenged them to provide evidence of physical injury or harassment.
He said the police had never found any evidence of wrongdoing by Good Counsel in spite of repeated complaints by Marie Stopes. He also criticised Marie Stopes, one of the two largest private abortion providers in Britain, for trying to suppress the distribution of leaflets by Good Counsel.
He said: “This seems an extraordinary attempt to intimidate a peaceful group who are offering an alternative view of abortion.”
Abortion figures alarm activists ONLY A TINY percentage of abortions performed since its legalisation in 1967 have been carried out on health grounds, it has been disclosed.
Following a parliamentary question tabled by Lord Alton of Liverpool, Department of Health figures showed that of the 6.4 million abortions carried out in England and Wales since the 1967 Abortion Act came into force in April 1968, 143 (0.006 per cent) were classified as necessary to save the life or prevent serious permanent harm to the health of the mother. Another 23,778, or 0.37 per cent were performed under section 1(1)(c), whereby the “continuance of pregnancy would involve the risk to the life of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated”.
The Catholic Church has repeatedly declared that the unborn child can in no circumstances be called an aggressor against its mother, and that abortion is a violation of the right to life.
Josephine Quintavalle, cofounder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), said: “The child has no rights at all. In abortion clinics the law is not respected: figures never seem to fall and people don’t realise.
“The pro-life movement should feel optimistic, there is no better moment than now to consider tackling the Abortion Act and making significant changes. It is time for pro-life to come together and work together to create strategies to turn public opinion into a positive impact.”
Investigative journalists recently discovered evidence of abortion on the grounds of sex at British abortion clinics.
Catholic schoolboy berates Miliband BY NIGEL BURNHAM
A CATHOLIC schoolboy from Hartlepool had his first 15 minutes of fame last week after a video of him firing questions at Labour leader Ed Miliband attracted thousands of hits on the internet.
Isaac Duffy, a 14-year-old pupil at the English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, manoeuvred his way to the front of the Durham Miners Gala stage to question Mr Miliband as he mingled with supporters and members of the public after delivering his speech.
In the video Isaac – a Conservative supporter who has been photographed with Foreign Secretary William Hague – hectors Mr Miliband over his party’s record on youth unemployment. Mr Miliband, who initially leans towards Isaac to listen, grins and quickly moves on after hearing the boy’s first question: “Do you think your pandering to your union paymasters will be your downfall in the Labour Party?” As the Labour leader turns away, Isaac calls out after him: “And you talked about youth unemployment even though youth unemployment rose by 40 per cent when Labour were in government.”
The 28-second video went on to become a internet hit, with more than 10,000 views on YouTube, and over 600 Tweets on social media site Twitter.
A member of Hartlepool
Conservative Future – the youth wing of the local Tory party – Isaac denied that the encounter had been a stunt, claiming that the video, filmed by his friend, Charlotte Berry, 14, had been “spur of the moment”.
Isaac said: “I managed to get right to the front of the stage and just took the opportunity to ask Mr Miliband a question.
“Mr Miliband definitely heard what I said – he just couldn’t answer me and tried to get away as quickly as he could. I was disappointed he didn’t answer my questions. If he is going to run for Prime Minister then he should be able to answer questions from a 14year-old boy.”
Isaac, who lives with parents Kevin and Christine on Hartlepool’s Bishop Cuthbert estate, added: “I didn’t expect the video to go viral, but the response has been amazing.
“I take a very keen interest in politics and I want to be an MP when I get older.”
Isaac Duffy, 14, confronted the Labour leader over unemployment PA
The Latin Mass Society www.lms.org.uk 020 7404 7284 11-13 Macklin Street, London WC2B 5NH
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Scottish Cabinet: we will allow gay people to marry
BY DAVID V BARRETT
SCOTLAND is to legalise samesex marriage, it has been announced, despite civil servants’ fears that the law will not protect clergy who do not wish to perform ceremonies.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on Wednesday, just days after a leaked email suggested that Edinburgh was planning to delay legislation on samesex marriage until the British Government had changed UK law.
The email suggested that the SNP government in Edinburgh wanted the UK Equality Act to be amended first before it brought in any new legislation in this area. In particular, it was concerned about legal protection for any celebrants who are against same-sex marriage and also for anyone who speaks out against it.
The leaked email, apparently from one civil servant to another, said: “We may announce that we will proceed with the introduction of samesex marriage, by means of both civil and religious ceremonies, and with the introduction of religious ceremonies to register civil partnerships.
“However we may also say, and give considerable prominence to saying, that the government recognises the need to provide appropriate protections for some in Scottish society who are against same-sex marriage.
“I expect we will say that
Alex Salmond the Equality Act 2010 needs to be amended to provide full protection for individual celebrants who are opposed to same-sex ceremonies, even if their religious body has decided to opt in to carrying out such ceremonies.”
First Minister Alex Salmond is also understood to be concerned that legislating on same-sex marriage will overshadow the run-up to the 2014 referendum on independence, with fears that Catholics may vote against separation as a result.
The campaign group Scotland for Marriage said: “You can’t rewrite the law on marriage without unravelling hundreds of years of law and culture.
“It is likely that our ministers would not wish to commence any Scottish act introducing same-sex marriage until the amendment to the Equality Act is in place.”
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