The following is the abridged text of a talk given by Babette Francis at the Call to Holiness Conference in Brisbane on 9 October, 2010, chaired by Fr Greg Jordan, SJ.
A distinguishing feature of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has been his emphasis on reason and truth: in his Regensberg lecture (2006) and his encyclical Caritas in Veritate (2009), the Pope reiterates that love must be combined with truth.
The importance of truth can be highlighted in regard to four life issues: embryo experimentation, the value of ultrasound in preventing abortions, the increased risk of breast cancer caused by abortion, and statistics on maternal mortality.
Truth is often absent from journalists' reports on medical successes with stem cells. We read of improvements or cures, but the report leaves unsaid that these have been achieved with adult stem cells, not embryonic ones.
Recent good news is that a faster and more efficient way of deriving stem cells from skin cells has been discovered by scientists in Boston who say their discovery will revolutionise an already-booming field of medical advances through adult stem cells.
Research on embryonic stem cells, which kills the tiny human beings from which they are derived, have produced no cures or treatments, and have led to tumors risking even more injury to patients. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, already boast scores of successes in curing or improving conditions including spinal cord injury, juvenile diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, lung and heart diseases, and eye damage.
Another "truthful" technology is ultrasound for it has proven the baby in the womb, whose identity the death peddlers tried to obscure by labelling it a "fetus", is actually a small baby and not a clump of cells. Ultrasound provides a window to the truth, for we can see the baby moving its limbs and sucking its thumb. This is why abortion activists are so opposed to women considering abortion seeing their babies on ultrasound.
During a recent 40 Days for Life campaign in Arkansas, the team reported that three babies were spared from abortion. One counselor had a simple message for women entering the facility: "Ask to see the ultrasound!"
One young couple the counsellor talked to walked out of the facility with smiles, their ultrasound photo in hand, and accepted information about a pro-life pregnancy centre.
Abortion and breast cancer
There are over 30 studies world-wide dating back to 1957 showing the increased risk of breast cancer caused by abortion. In pregnancy there is a rapid rise in estrogen which causes breast cells to multiply. When cells are rapidly dividing and increasing, they are unstable and vulnerable to cancer. Breast cells do not stabilise until 32 weeks of pregnancy. If the pregnancy is terminated before 32 weeks, by abortion or a car accident, the woman is left with more vulnerable cells in her breasts.
In the past 18 months there have been five new studies confirming the link between abortion and breast cancer: from Turkey, China, USA, Sri Lanka and Iran. Endeavour Forum has written to the Cancer Council of Australia and the Cancer Council of Victoria, asking why women are not informed. Peter Kavanagh, MLC (DLP), directed this question in the Victorian Parliament to the Health Minister, as did Rev Fred Nile, MLC, in the NSW Parliament. None of us has had a reply.
The National Cancer Institute USA continues to be intransigent, despite one of their own researchers admitting the link. One could speculate that the motivation is to preserve the status of abortion as a safe procedure.
Feminists have tried to conceal the truth in their claim - vigorously promoted at UN conferences - that maternal deaths were caused by laws that made abortion illegal, and have tried to inflate numbers of maternal deaths worldwide, to support their argument that legalising abortion would save women's lives. Ann Starrs, "Family Care International" (an abortion advocacy group), told scientists at a symposium on maternal and child health hosted by Washington University's Institute for Health Matters and Evaluation and the British Medical Journal to "lock all the academics in a black box and have them come out with a consensus set of numbers" - or conceal the fact that there is disagreement between their numbers and those of abortion activists. These groups were quoting figures of "over 500,000 annual maternal deaths", while the figure was 342,000, with 62,000 of these from HIV/AIDS.
The scientists at the symposium refused to back the feminist/UN agencies' claim that contraception and abortion improved maternal health. Hans Rosling, professor at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, said Sri Lanka's decline in maternal mortality was because of asphalt roads and other infrastructure. (Abortion is restricted in Sri Lanka).
Indeed, maternal mortality is lowest in countries with restrictive abortion laws such as Poland and Ireland (which has the lowest maternal mortality in the world). Maternal mortality is higher in countries where abortion is legal, for example, in Chile maternal mortality rose when abortion laws were liberalised, and fell when abortion was restricted. What pregnant women need is access to prenatal care, and the availability of blood transfusions and antibiotics - not abortions.
Pope Benedict reminds us in Caritas et Veritate of what Paul VI clearly enunciated: that social questions have become worldwide, and "the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice" in a civilisation animated by love.