July 26, 2014

San Jose Articles Challenge UN Position of a Universal Right to Abortion

San Jose Articles

Source: Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments Download the San Jose articles (.pdf). This relates to a press conference yesterday. At the end you will find a link for the San Jose Articles. It is a strong and impressive statement of principle, with impressive signatories. PRESS ADVISORY, October 5, 2011 UN Officials Wrong. No Right to Abortion.New Expert Document Issued at United Nations  Where: UN Press Briefing Room, Dag Hammaskjold Auditorium When: October 6, 2011, 11 a.m. What: Launch of the San Jose Articles Tomorrow morning [Oct. 6] at the UN press briefing room, internationally recognized scholar Professor Robert George of Princeton and former US Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees will challenge claims made by UN personnel and others that there exists an international right to abortion in international law. As recently as a few weeks ago the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General have all said such … [Read more...]

John Finnis on the Moral Status of the Fetus

From the American Catholic blog. Look at the clear thinking going on, the direct challenge to secularists and others working to establish the culture of death. Then compare this to our preoccupation with global warming and other dubious fads, the confusion (as the essay below states) between morality and moral status in our didactic discourse, our inability to self-organize (at least on the hierarchical level) thus binding the nascent creativity of many of our priests and laity (the fact we accomplish as much as we do despite the handicaps proves the point), and so forth. American Orthodoxy is at a crossroads and it no longer acceptable to waste another decade arguing about unity and mission like we have the last four. This has to stop. One other point. I find in the essay the philosophical rationale for a point I've been making for years about the claim that the unborn fetus (latin: little one) is merely "potential human life." While the culture of death advocates use the claim to … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Unless we all matter

Unless we all matter...

The Source "God loves each of us, as if there were only one of us." - St. Augustine. If you want to accurately predict what could soon go wrong in society, just read the professional journals.  Case in point: A bioethicist named Alasdair Cochrane, a deep thinker at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights in the UK, argued recently in Bioethics that we should discard our (already tenuous) embrace of intrinsic human dignity as the foundational basis for establishing medical ethics and enacting health care public policies. Eschewing human exceptionalism and the sanctity of human life would have huge ramifications, and in urging what he calls an "undignified bioethics," Cochrane does not shy away from describing the stakes: …the possession of dignity by humans signifies that they [all people] have an inherent moral worth.  In other words, because human beings possess dignity we cannot do what we like to them, but instead have direct moral … [Read more...]

A Thought Experiment

Let me offer you a thought experiment. Yesterday on the Orthodox Church in America's website there was an interesting press release recounting a "discussion between members of the Holy Synod of Bishops [of the OCA] and a number of congressmen during a late-January 2010 meeting in the US capital" (OCA Holy Synod members share human rights concerns with US congressmen). The meeting addressed, again in the words of the press release, a variety of issues affecting traditionally Orthodox Christian lands — among them, the situation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey in light of His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew's widely acclaimed December 2009 interview on "60 Minutes"; the plight of Orthodox Christians in Kosovo and Coptic Christians in Egypt; human trafficking; and other human rights issues. Let me first say, I think it is a good thing for the bishops to speak with representatives of the US government; it is a very patristic thing actually.  It also speaks well of the … [Read more...]

U.S. Ambassador praises Egypt’s Freedom of the Press and Human Rights; Copts say otherwise

A friend sent me this translation of an original article in Arabic here. During her visit to Tanta University Scobey praises Freedom of the Press and Human Rights in Egypt Monday 14th of December 2009 Gharbia: Hend Adel Margaret Scobey, the United States of America’s Ambassador to Egypt affirmed that there is no differentiation between minorities in Egypt and described it as the country of civil coexistence, where there are some cases that reach the level of slight conflict, that Egypt aims to solve before they develop, in light of it enjoying full freedom of the press and Human Rights organizations work there in complete freedom. … [Read more...]

Report: ‘Serious violations’ of human rights in Turkey

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Here's an introductory clip from Forum 18's "TURKEY: Religious freedom survey, November 2009": Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council May 2010 Universal Periodic Review of Turkey, Forum 18 News Service has found that the country continues to see serious violations of international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. A long-standing crucially important issue, with many implications, is that Turkey has not legally recognised religious communities in their own right as independent communities with full legal status - such as the right to own places of worship and the legal protection religious communities normally have in states under the rule of law. Additionally, the most dangerous threat to individuals exercising freedom of religion or belief has been a series of violent attacks and murders on those perceived as threats; in recent years the victims have been Christians. Here's a hypothetical: What if American bishops in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese applied … [Read more...]

Knocking Human Beings Off the Pedestal of Exceptionalism

Occasional commentator to AOI blog and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith warns in a recent article that, "society’s belief in the unique moral value and importance of human life is under unprecedented assault...Most people still believe in human exceptionalism and are unaware that powerful social and cultural forces are working diligently to dismantle the sanctity of life ethic as the fundamental value of our social order." He is correct. Read it carefully, think through the logic, and heed the warnings. The crisis in the West is one of anthropology with ominous implications. +++++++++++++++++++++ By Wesley J. Smith. Published on The Church Report website. Society’s belief in the unique moral value and importance of human life is under unprecedented assault. Most people still believe in human exceptionalism and are unaware that powerful social and cultural forces are working diligently to dismantle the sanctity of life ethic as the fundamental value of our … [Read more...]

Using ‘Human Rights’ to Squelch Free Speech

In the June issue of Reason Magazine, Ezra Levant details his long and unnecessary struggle with Canadian human rights watchdogs over charges that he insulted a Muslim extremist, who claimed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. This sorry episode also cost Levant, the former publisher of Canada's Western Standard magazine, about $100,000. Read "The Internet Saved My Life: How I beat Canada's 'human rights' censors." (HT: RealClearPolitics). Levant sums it up this way: The investigation vividly illustrated how Canada’s provincial and national human rights commissions (HRCs), created in the 1970s to police discrimination in employment, housing, and the provision of goods and services, have been hijacked as weapons against speech that offends members of minority groups. My eventual victory over this censorious assault suggests that Western governments will find it increasingly difficult in the age of the Internet to continue undermining human rights in the name of … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

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Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Iakovos Speaks Out on Illinois ‘Reproductive Health and Access Act’

Greek Orthodox Metropoiltan Iakovos has issued a "call to action" on an Illinois bill that right-to-life advocates describe as a state level Freedom of Choice Act. The metropolitan has posted a clear and forceful letter on the Metropolis of Chicago Web site condemning the proposed HB 2354 as unjust and a violation of "the very principles of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Life of the world." The metropolitan said HB 2354 "would affect all health care workers by removing their right to conscientious objection to abortion and related procedures, forcing them to participate in or provide abortions or face legal punishments. This bill would basically make the right to an abortion a fundamental human right in the State of Illinois." More: The forces that oppose religious freedom and are actually seeking to increase the number of abortions in our society are well organized, well funded, and well connected to the political process. It is high time for Christians to raise their own … [Read more...]

Congratulations to Wesley J. Smith

The Human Life Foundation awarded its "Great Defender of Life" to Wesley J. Smith last month for his tireless work in defense of human life. I've admired Mr. Smith's work for years, have read most of his books, and even reviewed one for Town Hall a few years back. His books are invaluable in keeping you informed about the relentless assault on human dignity waged behind closed doors in our culture. You are not informed about these issues unless you are familiar with his work. … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox: Human Rights ‘not absolute’

In Russia Profile, Andrei Zolotov Jr. reports on the Russian Orthodox Council of Bishops and its adoption of a new work titled, "The Bases of the Russian Orthodox Church's Teaching on Dignity, Liberty and Human Rights." Zolotov says it's no accident that this report surfaces at a time when Russia and the European Union are "actively engaged" on a discussion of common values. In the Bishops Council document, he reports, the Church says that "human rights are definitely a value, and they belong to everybody, not just to the priests and priestesses of the new human rights religion. But it is not the absolute value. It has to be harmonized with the values of faith, morals, love of thy neighbor (and thus family and patriotic values), and of the environment." Zolotov continued: In essence, what we see here is a process of analysis, adaptation and reception – not in a wholesale, packaged way, but in a "processed" form – of the values that had been developed in the modern period on a … [Read more...]