September 2023 – Dublin Dinner To Celebrate The Gift of Life. Proposals to use AI to select and destroy “unsuitable” human embryos challenged: “This is AI led eugenics. We need instead Authentic Intelligence, Ethical Intelligence – not more eugenics.” “The supreme human right is the right to life – on which all other human rights are dependent.”

Sep 9, 2023 | News

September 9th, 2023  Dublin PRO LIFE Dinner

It is a pleasure to have been able to accept the invitation from Senator Ronan Mullen to be with you in Dublin tonight.

Nothing is more important than the defence of life itself.

After the 2018 Referendum the faint hearted might have abandoned ship – but the reverse has happened with huge numbers turning out to large events. Be encouraged that heroic figures like William Wilberforce experienced any number of defeats and setbacks before ultimately bringing about a change of heart, a change of direction, a change of law. They knew etherised cause was just.

I often take heart from the story of the boy on the seashore where  the tide had washed up thousands of stranded star fish. One by one he started to throw them back into the  sea. A laughing adult approached him, remonstrated, and said there are too many, you can’t save them all, it wont make any difference. The boy replied: it will make a difference to that one.

The rabbi who said the person who saves a single life saves the world – and your work has made a difference – and saved many lives. I know that there are folk here tonight – and I pay tribute to them – whose tireless campaign in 1983 led to the Eighth Amendment – with one leading actuary estimating that as a result of their work a staggering 100,000 unborn babies lives were saved.

In the fight to save lives we will inevitably encounter fierce the opposition and ridicule but  it is our duty to keep alive a burning light. This is, as I will contend tonight, the supreme human rights issue: the very right to life itself. 

75 years ago, in 1948, as the world emerged from the horrors of the Holocaust and the second of two World Wars, enlightened leaders crafted two hugely important international documents, the Convention on the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Its 30 articles include the right to asylum, freedom from torture, free speech and the right to education. It includes civil and political rights, liberty, and privacy. But foundational is Article 3 which adamantly proclaims that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.”.  Everyone has the right to life. 

That momentous Declaration states that it had its origins in “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

Its opening preamble emphasises inalienable rights and human dignity. 

In the UK  I serve on Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights. 

Be clear – its illogical when a concern for rights isn’t re-enforced by a concern for duties – especially to the weakest and voiceless. 

This evening, I want to remain focused on that lack of consistency and the meaningless cant and humbug which ignores the right from which all others flow – the right to life itself. 

In 1968, as a school boy, shocked by the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King I got involved in politics.

Last week I re-read Dr. King’s famous iconic, inspiring, speech “I Have a Dream”,  delivered on August 28th 1963 during a march on Washington. 

And in a commentary on that speech who better than the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Alveda Celeste King, to challenge this startling inconsistency in the vocabulary of human rights? 

In Westminster, at a meeting which I chaired for Dr. King, she highlighted  the startling inconsistency in the vocabulary of human rights telling us that if her uncle was alive today he would be a leader of the pro life movement. 

Alveda King is a woman who has changed her mind. She had two abortions and describes the consequences for mother and child believing abortion leads to the death of one person and to the defeat of another; believing both lives matter.

Last week, commemorating her uncle’s iconic speech, she said “Sometimes people think it’s easier to help me kill my child than it is to help me…. There has to be a better human way to serve humanity than killing.”

We need millions of people to see that too and to change their minds as Dr.King has done. 

How much easier it would have been for Dr. King to remain quiet in order not to risk the taboos of our cancel culture. Her statement that she could remain silent no more echoes the words of two remarkable people executed by the Nazis: Edith Stein who insisted that “those who remain silent are responsible” and Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said that “not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act.” 

I have lost count of the number of times angry people have shouted the slogan “my body, my choice” or “my right to choose” at me. 

We should take those slogans head on.

“My right to choose” –puts me, my, I at the heart of the slogan – not you or your needs; it demands rights but says nothing about duties; and it elevates choice to the status of a religious dogma with no consideration to the consequences. 

 Imagine if I were to use that same slogan to defend the insatiable consumption of the world’s resources – how would the Green Movement respond; imagine I used it to justify some act of cruelty against an animal – how would animal rights activists respond?  Imagine I used it to justify appalling discrimination against a disabled person or a person of colour or a different sexual orientation – and, rightly, the protests wouldn’t be far behind.

The day a fox or transgenic pigs arrive at Westminster or the Dail brandishing placards “Save the Unborn Child” or “Save the Human Race” we may wake up to the sheer illogicality of the positions we strike, of the politically correct causes we embrace. We need a different kind of PC – political courage, like that of Ronan Mullen.

Mercifully, as we see in other jurisdictions and the rising generation many young people see the banality of the sloganeering.   

This isn’t a trivial question or fringe issue. 

Recall the 1948 condemnation of “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” 

Before anyone justifies an abortion they should be required to gaze into the diaphanous, translucent beauty of the womb and in awe contemplate the extraordinary humanity of these tiny new members of the human race; then watch, with the full force of Irish and British law, the pain and suffering we permit. 

Spare us the slogans. 

Find your conscience.

Embrace the supreme human rights issue.

I have two other points to make.

One concerns the impact that legalising abortion has had on society. The other concerns to what industrialised abortion leads. 

Malcolm Muggeridge once said that it had only taken a generation for “a crime against humanity to be regarded as an act of medical compassion”  

Abortion dramatically changes the nature of medicine, with the discarding of the injunction of the ancient Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. 

It compromises medics and penalises those who refuse to collaborate. 

Think of the two Scottish midwives who lost their jobs after refusing to be complicit in abortion. 

It changes the relationships between parents – and no doubt suits those men who find it convenient to push a woman into the hands of the abortionist. 

And it robs us of children whose gifts are sorely needed at a time when the decline in the birth rate is becoming a ticking time bomb in our lives. It makes us a crueller and less compassionate society; a child becomes a threat rather than a blessing. 

Abortion revolves around ideology and money.

We have created a system which generates millions of pounds for individual abortionists and their clinics where, in a monumental conflict of interest, we allow them also to act as the counsellors and referral agents.

My other point concerns the elastic law of endless extension- what happens once you discard the belief that the right to life is the foundational right. 

In Ireland abortions have been nearly 30,000 abortions since the law was changed – one abortion for every seven babies born – and we know that a Government review is riddled with calls for even mor extreme provisions, effectively calls for full decriminalisation throughout the 9 months of pregnancy. 

In 1967 Britain was told that abortion would only be used in extreme circumstances. It was a lie then, and a lie now.

In the UK one in four pregnancies now ends in abortion. 200,000 every year. There have now been 10 million abortions – one every 2.5 minutes some, in the case of disability, right up to and even during birth. 90% of Down Syndrome babies are now aborted. 

And it has also led to sex selective abortions – where little girls have been targeted in acts of gendercide. 

The UK exported this under the label of reproductive rights. 

The result? In Communist China, through programmes funded in part by the UK, there are now 30 million more men than women because of gender abortions. And it will lose between 600 and 700 million people by the end of the century, half of its current population – with significant geopolitical implications. But at its heart is the belief that children are a problem rather than a blessing.

Where were the political activists when we were campaigning against the CCP’s one child policy. The political parties – all of them – were aiding and abetting it.  

And to what else has it led?

The U.K. Parliament was lied to when it was told that without experiments on human embryos no progress could be made in the treatment of serious illness.

Since experiments were legalised in 1990 an estimated three and a half million human embryos have been destroyed or discarded. 

A report in today’s Times says an Artificial Intelligence programme developed in Ireland will in the future detect and determine which human embryos will be destroyed and which ones be saved . This is AI led eugenics. We need instead Authentic Intelligence, Ethical Intelligence – not more eugenics.

The “special status” which Parliament was told the human embryo would be given was rapidly jettisoned and grotesque demands acceded to for animal human hybrids; for procedures foretold in CS Lewis’ dystopian 1945 novel, That Hideous Strength – with the fiction now fact. 

This subversion of good ethics and good science also subverts the Academy and our intellectual life. 

Listen to the Oxford University ethicist who chillingly says new-born babies are not “actual persons” with “a moral right to life”. What we used to call  infanticide, he calls “after birth abortion.”  

And this takes us to the next runaway train.

While many of those who champion euthanasia do so, I am sure, with the best of motives, I believe it to be a profound mistake. 

Its advocates suggest it is a well-researched, well-established medical intervention.

This is simply not the case, yet another lie.

We should oppose it because so called limitations and safeguards are vague with elastic properties enabling their effortless extension. 

We should oppose it because conscientious objections of medics are routinely compromised or ignored and arrogantly disregarded.

We should oppose and resist it on grounds of public safety.

It is simply not possible to allow euthanasia for a determined few without putting much larger numbers of others at risk. 

That’s what has happened in Holland and Belgium – where there is now child euthanasia – and it is what is happening in Canada, where only last week a disabled veteran described seeking help with a chair lift and being offered a lethal injection. 

Instead of promoting bad laws, legislators, policy makers, and governments should work instead for world class palliative care and resources for health care that values assisted living rather than expediting death. 

Without euthanasia last year there were around 600,000 deaths in England and Wales. A tiny number of hard cases make it into newspaper headlines – which drive the debate. 

And, as with abortion, euthanasia gets driven by economics. 

Baroness Warnock – who led the argument for embryo experimentation – said this in advocating euthanasia: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the NHS…Pensioners in mental decline are wasting people’s lives because of the care they require.”

Little wonder that mycolleague, Baroness Jane Campbell, who has spinal muscular atrophy, a Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and speaks in Parliament through an oxygen mask offers an alternative view:

“Disabled peoples’ lives are invariably seen as less worthwhile than those of non-disabled people…Euthanasia is dangerous and threatening. I and many other severely disabled people will not perceive your support for it as an act of compassion, but one founded in fear and prejudice.”

And this takes us back to the human rights and human dignity of the most vulnerable.

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, begins by asserting “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally”. No euthanasia in other words. A right to self-determination is not a right to self-termination. There is no ‘right to die’ under human rights conventions. 

Let me draw to a close.

As a little boy my mother took me back to the West of Ireland to the remote mountain villages around Lough Mask where she had been born and grew up.

I wanted to know the story of the abandoned cottages and the people who had once lived there. One million died in the Great Starvation: three million emigrated – fulfilling the hope of Malthus that “a great part of the population should be swept from the soil” and to the advice of the civil servant Charles Trevelyan that Ireland needed to be cured of over population. 

1.3 million of the Irish people who fled the famine emigrated via the Port of Liverpool. As a Liverpool MP the cathedral parish was in my constituency. It was built on the site of workhouse where thousands of Irish people died in destitution or poverty. In the neighbouring parish in one week there were 166 burials – 105 of them were children. 

The eugenics of Malthus and Trevelyan and the failure to safeguard and cherish those lives manifested itself again some seventy years later when in 1907 Beatrice and Sydney Webb published a racist, eugenic, Fabian Tract describing Irish Catholics, Polish Russian and German Jews as “thriftless and irresponsible” and their desire to have children resulting in England’s “national deterioration” and the country “falling to the Irish and the Jews” 

In every age and in every generation and every such repugnant prejudice and bigotry must be combatted in the defence of human life. 

In Greek mythology, when the King of the Lydians asked the Oracle of Delphi what is the most important thing a person should know, the reply came: “know who you are”.

Knowing your story should not lead to becoming prisoners of history but should lead to a determination to resist the same distorted arguments and attitudes determining events in our own times.

 We had some words written in Irish and English on a card which my late mother kept pinned up in our kitchen. They  said that “it is in the shelter of each other’s lives that the people live.”  

Providing that shelter is central to the joy of the pro life movement that matters so much – it counteracts the anger and despair of the pro abortion lobby. And it represents the best hope for the future of Ireland.  

It’s a simple truth to keep in mind as all of you here tonight continue to insist that the greatest of all rights is the right to life and that you will give voice and through your actions provide the shelter that enables the gift of life to flourish and for other to live

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