- Anti-choice campaigners respond to Health White Paper with a ‘campaign of misinformation and propaganda’
- NASA’s arsenic-based life discovery a catalyst for theological debate
- Stay: 12/2/10 Atheist Cartoon
- Important inquiry into assisted dying is launched
- Right wing cherry-picks from Pentagon DADT report
Posted: 02 Dec 2010 03:05 PM PST
In response to the new Public Health White Paper, ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’, a hardline anti-abortion group has said it will target pregnant women who are considering terminations by ‘intensifying’ its distribution of anti-abortion literature to GPs. By contrast, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed this aspect of the White Paper, describing its commitment to guarantee access to sexual health and family planning services as ‘vital’, and has criticized the renewed anti-choice campaign by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
The White Paper states:
In a press statement SPUC said: ‘In recent months SPUC has been sending information to GPs, briefing them about the reality and dangers of abortion, so they can in turn inform their patients who are pregnant and who may be considering abortion. SPUC will now intensify that campaign in the light of the government’s proposal.’
The announcement comes less than a week after the Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported that SPUC has significantly expanded its schools programme in recent months. The investigation revealed that SPUC’s classroom presentations contained graphic images and false information about the effects of abortion.
Other religious groups have also been critical of the White Paper. The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW) has said it will ‘be seeking firm reassurances from the Government that their intention to increase young people’s access to ‘health services’ will not place an expectation on Catholic schools to promote abortion or other activities that would be contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.’
BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented: ‘It is vital that women with unwanted pregnancies have timely access to accurate, objective information about all their options and can access free, safe and legal abortions if that is their choice. It is also vital that people can access health services easily and without fear of criticism or comments about their lifestyles. The commitment by government to ensure access to non-judgemental sexual health and family planning services, including abortion, is a step in the right direction and we welcome these provisions.’
‘Unfortunately, it is no surprise that anti-choice lobbyists will be trying their hardest to oppose these sensible and crucial measures. The campaign of misinformation and propaganda is likely to be stepped up and it is more important than ever for those who support objective education and women’s autonomy – religious and non-religious – to make their voices heard.
Posted: 02 Dec 2010 02:50 PM PST
The American Humanist Association responded today to the news from NASA that a new form of life has been discovered that apparently evolved outside the scope of all previously discovered life on earth.
“The polite thing to say is that discoveries such as this don’t really impeach the credibility of established religion, but in truth of course they really do,” said David Niose, President of the American Humanist Association. “The fact that life can spring forth in this way from nature, taken in context with what else we’ve learned in recent centuries about space and time, surely makes it less plausible that the human animal is the specially favored creation of all-powerful, all-knowing divinity.”
Humanism is a philosophy that approaches life from a natural standpoint, deriving truth not from ancient texts or claimed revelation but from ordinary observation, rational thinking, logic, and empiricism. While appreciating the emotional, artistic and the creative aspects of life, humanists reject supernatural explanations, often putting them at odds with conservative religion.
“It’s unlikely that this discovery will change the minds of those who insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible,” Niose said. “To them, the world is about 6,000 years old and evolution is a hoax, and no amount of scientific evidence will change that. For the rest of us, however, this discovery is indeed profound, and it adds to the mountains of evidence that already point to the humanistic lifestance as being our best hope.”
“This break-through not only offers the promise of a deeper understanding of Earth,” said American Humanist Association President Roy Speckhardt, “but it also poses a question to those doubtful of the world’s scientific origins: as science moves forward, shedding light on what religion masks in darkness, how can ignorance remain without sacrificing discovery, innovation, and most of all, a better world?”
For more information on NASA’s discovery, have a look HERE. In part:
Posted: 02 Dec 2010 02:39 PM PST
Posted: 02 Dec 2010 02:28 PM PST
As a Bill seeking to reform the law on assisted dying in
Whether to legalise assisted dying is a devolved matter, meaning that if the law were to change in
BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips said, ‘Although it is disappointing that the Scottish Parliament has voted against a reform in the law on assisted dying, the defeat was not wholly unexpected at this stage. The process, however, of Margo MacDonald’s Bill provided excellent and invaluable opportunities to scrutinise the ethical and legal bases for a future change to the law, as well as to show the wide public support for a Bill on End of Life Assistance to be debated in the Parliament.’
Ms Phillips continued, ‘Earlier this year the BHA joined calls for an independent inquiry into assisted dying, to examine the evidence relating to a change in the law, to help towards evidence-based policy making on this sensitive issue. We very much welcome the launch of a new Commission and inquiry into assisted dying and look forward to contributing to its work over the coming months.’
Posted: 01 Dec 2010 09:33 PM PST
In the face of media coverage trumpeting the overwhelming indifference demonstrated in the Pentagon’s troop survey over gay soldiers serving openly — the first time of which I’m aware that the military put Americans’ civil rights up to a “gee, how do you feel about it” vote — right-wing commentators are cherry-picking and purposely misinterpreting statistics to show that combat units are particularly horrified at the idea of knowing that a fellow servicemember isn’t heterosexual.
Before we discuss those who twist statistics until they squeal, let’s look at those who openly complain that allowing gay people to serve without lying will infringe upon religious liberty:
Doubtless, the irony of their complaint against a policy currently making non-heterosexuals into second-class Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines is lost upon these men and women of God.
Unsurprisingly, the statistics cited by the Secretary of Defense conflict with those trumpeted by SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group Family Research Council and the sex-obsessed, pro-DADT Center for Security Policy.
Acknowledging a possible issue? Could be. But wait . . . the next paragraph:
That’s right. Asking servicemembers who had not knowingly served with a gay servicemember what might happen or how they might react got prejudice-based predictions of disaster . . . while servicemembers who had served with someone they thought to be gay overwhelmingly reported no difficulties as a result in real life experience.
Reminds me of the child who has never tried broccoli screaming how she hates it more than liver, or Brussels sprouts, or being dunked in boiling oil . . . then finds that broccoli is actually good, or at least not bad, and certainly far better than the boiling oil.
What’s that? You want to read this report for yourself?
It’s available in full HERE.
Something largely glossed over in the recent statistics-flinging is the response of chaplains interviewed in the course of the study. While only three of the 145 chaplains who joined the study’s focus groups said they would quit the military, there were plenty who demonstrated their Godly love as they openly refused to aid any homosexual soldier in any way:
In related news, even some conservatives are cheering the report. Blogger Noah Kristula-Green at the Frum Forum comments:
He goes on to make a very logical point:
Good question, Noah.
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