Oxford Students for Life

Promoting a culture of life in the University and beyond

What we’re looking forward to this year…


The year ahead is an incredibly exciting one for OSFL. With a number of great events planned, and many more ideas still in the pipeline, we can’t wait to get started. As before, our work is going to focus on two main areas. Firstly we will be organizing events directed towards fostering discussion of life issues, and secondly we are committed to improving the lives of student parents on campus.

At the start of September the House of Commons emphatically voted against the Marris Bill, proposing the legalization of assisted suicide. In all likelihood the question won’t return to a commons vote until the next parliament at least, but given its prominence in the news we thought it appropriate to focus on this question for Michaelmas. For our main event of the term we have invited Dr Kevin Yuill, author of ‘Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case against Legalization’ and Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director for the Care Not Killing Alliance and formerly a general surgeon. They will be proposing the motion ‘This House opposes the legalization of assisted suicide’, against two representatives from Dignity in Dying, the leading campaign group in the UK supporting legalization.

At the end of the term, in the next installment of Life Chats, we are very excited to have Greg Jackson, former OSFL member and Student Support Officer for the Alliance of Pro-Life Students, presenting a session on assisted suicide apologetics. He will be tackling some of the thornier issues surrounding autonomy, suffering, and legalization.

Our first event of the term, however, is on a different topic. Philippa Taylor, Head of Public Policy at CMF, will be addressing us on the very delicate issue of foetal disability. In UK law abortion is only legal up until 24 weeks, unless the foetus displays “physical or mental abnormalities”, in which case abortion is legal up until birth. This poses numerous complex and sensitive questions, including potential discrimination towards disabled people, and we look forward to hearing Philippa’s talk on the matter.

With regard to student parents, there is a huge amount of work to be done and lots to build on from the excellent start made by the student parents sub-committee last year. Over the summer we had a very productive meeting with the newly elected Student Parents and Carers rep at OUSU, and look forward to working together as much as possible. Our initial focus is going to be on passing motions in the different college MCRs and JCRs, so that nappy changing tables are installed and high chairs are available in halls. Whilst doing this, we hope to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by student parents, by handing out information leaflets and running another student parent week, similar to the one held at the start of Trinity last year.

It is sure to be an eventful year, and one which we hope will make an actively positive contribution to student life at Oxford, whether that is through campaign work for student parents or by offering new perspectives on complex issues that affect each and every one of us. We always want to hear from you, and have been really encouraged by messages people have sent suggesting events. If ever you want to help out in any way, do not hesitate to get in touch!

For more information on events, including dates, timings, and venues, please visit our website or Facebook page.

Johnny Church is co-President of Oxford Students for Life

Rethinking ‘death with dignity’

There are 3 days until Parliament will debate Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying Bill. The strongest support for the bill has come from the group Dignity in Dying, which has led the campaign to legalise physician-assisted suicide in the United Kingdom.

Dignity in Dying, like other advocacy groups for physician-assisted suicide, claim that dying with dignity means being able to choose how, when, and where we die. Many people face painful physical or mental decline at the end of life, and proponents of assisted dying argue that it’s only fair and compassionate to help those people avoid that decline by committing suicide with the help of a doctor if they wish. The premise of their argument is strong – people can experience overwhelming pain and fear in the face of death, and they deserve all of the care and support that they need. But it doesn’t follow from this that assisted suicide is a good idea, or that it will protect human dignity. There’s more than enough evidence to show that the actual effects of assisted dying bills are often disastrous. Assisted suicide laws don’t preserve human dignity – they attack it.

What does it mean to say we have dignity? If human beings have dignity, it is because we have value – nothing worthless can be dignified. Assisted suicide bills, however, enshrine in the law that some lives are less valuable than others. Laws exist to protect us. So laws which allow for the killing of the terminally ill, the disabled, or the unborn establish that not all lives are valuable enough to be worthy of protection. Many supporters of assisted suicide counter that if a person wishes to die, their will should take precedence over external evaluations. But it’s a pretty thin concept of value – and would make for a very poor law – to say that a person’s worth is only as great as their desire to live. Those who might be most tempted to take advantage of assisted dying laws – the weak, the suffering, and the lonely – are exactly the people whose dignity is in need of affirmation. Assisted suicide laws pull the rug out from under them.

Dignity doesn’t come from choosing how we die. It’s not nobler to swallow poison than to die of cancer. Dignity comes from having value, which human beings do. Laws that deny that value are an assault on dignity. The Marris Bill doesn’t offer dignity in death, it offers a degradation of life. It is in no-one’s best interest to move it forward.

A medic’s reflections on palliative care and assisted suicide

How people die remains in the memory of those who live on.” – Dame Cecily Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement.

During the last two months of my fifth year “Community Care” medical placement, I have had the precious opportunity to spend time with palliative care patients and physicians. It was an experience that not only gave me knowledge about this oft-forgotten kind of medical care, but also engaged my whole person, emotionally and spiritually, and left me with a new respect for the dying and those who care for them. I am thankful for the wisdom I gained from the experienced palliative care consultants, nurses, and chaplains at Sobell House hospice in Oxford, and Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

As a medical student, I have more opportunity than most to experience the hard realities of sickness and disease. But before this placement, I had spent little time with the dying, perhaps because I was more enthralled by the high tempo work of the emergency department, or the advanced interventions in cardiology.

Dr Adams, a wonderfully competent and compassionate palliative care consultant at Sobell House, taught me about the management of terminal patients: pain control, relief of nausea and constipation, and tending to emotional and spiritual needs. I learned about three of the big fears faced by the dying: fear of being in pain, of losing dignity, and of being a burden to loved ones. An elderly gentleman confided in me “I do love my family and I know they are all so busy, and I don’t want to burden them, so I hope I go soon.” I was told that it is not unusual to find patients concerned about becoming an unwanted burden on their relatives and carers.

Yet there were also those who took great delight in the time that they had left, and wished to stay alive as long as possible. “The thing that keeps me going is the only thing that makes me happy: spending time with my family”, one woman revealed. For some, a fear of the unknown in and after death, or a longing for forgiveness, was prominent. For others, a confidence in life after death brought peace. “I know where I am going”, reflected one man.

One of the most powerful lessons for me was the value of a good death. By a good death, I mean one in which a patient has had the chance to share memories with and say goodbye to loved ones, to set their affairs in order, to prepare themselves spiritually, and has been relieved from physical discomfort. Relatives, while grieving after a death, also shared their appreciation of the time spent together at the end. While many in our society may wish for a quick death, I think I would rather have this opportunity to spend my last days surrounded by family and friends, cared for by a team of experts.

Palliative care may begin to look very different to future medical students in the future. Next month MP Rob Marris will introduce a Private Members Bill into the House of Commons designed to allow doctors to assist in the suicide of patients with a terminal illness. At the moment, doctors are prohibited from killing and from assisting suicide, but under the proposed legislation they would be allowed to select a poison of their choice, advise the patient how to take the drug, and even insert an intravenous line for the drug to be given efficiently.

I’ve often heard people suggest that doctors currently use drugs to help people die, and that all is being proposed is regulation. But this is just not true: palliative care doctors use opioids and benzodiazepines to treat pain and anxiety, so that the precious last hours, days and weeks can be as valuable as possible. These drugs are used to improve one’s quality of life, not to end it altogether. The drugs used in assisted suicide, barbiturates in massive overdose, are completely different, designed to kill rapidly.

Of all the palliative care physicians that I spoke to, not a single one of them supported a change in the law on physician-assisted suicide. They recognise that the current law works, and that under the proposed law, pressure on terminally ill patients to end their lives may come from family members or medical professionals, but also may be self-imposed by those feeling they are a burden to others. I hope that the excellent work of the palliative care teams I joined can continue -without the threat of assisted suicide – for many years to come.

Josh Peppiatt is a 5th year medical student at Green Templeton College, Oxford

The actual consequences of physician-assisted suicide

Slippery slope arguments may usually be fallacious, but hard facts aren’t. As we draw nearer to Parliament’s debate the Marris Bill, we at OSFL thought we’d cast an eye over just a few of the problems that have arisen following the legalisation of assisted suicide abroad. This is by no means a comprehensive list and more information can be found here http://www.bioethics.org.uk/evidenceguide.html, here http://www.livinganddyingwell.org.uk/, and here http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/.

Let’s start with Oregon in the USA, since it has a law that is most similar to the one proposed in the Marris Bill. In Oregon, patients requesting lethal medicine as a result of depression or mental illness are meant to have a psychological test carried out. Only 3 patients of 105 last year had this examination. Medicaid covers assisted suicide in Oregon, but it doesn’t cover many important drugs that improve quality of life: life becomes expensive and death free. Over years, the financial costs of palliative care stack up  – when NHS budgets are squeezed, could we see economic pressure to end lives?

The state of Washington has largely copied Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, with some frightening results. The briefest doctor-patient relationship before the prescription of an assisted suicide was under a week. Could any doctor really judge the pressures and problems a patient faces after only knowing them a week? In 2014, 59% of people asking for an assisted suicide stated as motivation the fear that they would be a burden on family, friends, or carers. This flies in the face of the common claim that assisted dying empowers the frail.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are both famously legal in the Netherlands. In 2012, 3% of deaths in the Netherlands were the result of euthanasia or assisted suicide.  Of those, 7% were done without the explicit request of the patient. A lot of arguments for assisted suicide emphasise the will of the patient. But if an assisted suicide is truly in a patient’s best interests, it’s unclear why it should only be prescribed if he or she asks for it. In practice, the role of explicit consent can easily fade away. Furthermore, Dutch children aged 12-16 are able to request and be assisted in suicide if their parents agree. The Marris Bill is limited to those over 18. But again, why shouldn’t this eventually change to include children if there is nothing wrong with assisted suicide? Some Dutch patients have been granted an assisted suicide when they are simply ‘tired of living’. The safeguards in the Marris Bill aren’t safe – they have eroded everywhere that similar laws have been put in place.

In the news recently for extending euthanasia to children of any age, Belgium is a cautionary tale for a country deciding whether or not to legalise assisted suicide. For the most part, Belgian patients are not referred for an assisted suicide by a doctor who is a specialist in palliative care. In other words, they are referred by someone who does not have expert knowledge of ways to minimise suffering. To an unspecialised doctor, assisted suicide may seem like the best option because he/she does not know what else to offer. Assisted suicide is being prescribed in ignorance.

But you don’t even need to look at real-life consequences of physician-assisted suicide to see what’s wrong with it. If Parliament passes the Marris Bill, it will send the message that the lives of the terminally ill are worth less than the lives of the healthy, and that the state will no longer protect the sick in the same way. The law should not be making judgements about the value of people’s lives. All life is valuable, and deserves protection.

To write to your MP, go to http://notoassistedsuicide.org.uk/Let them know that life is valuable.

Assisted suicide would change the way we respond to despair

Nathan Verhelst, a trans man from Belgium, had struggled with mental illness since childhood. At the age of 44, after a series of crises, he took his own life. Sadly, that is not so uncommon. What was unusual were the circumstances. Verhelst received a lethal injection from a doctor, as part of Belgium’s standard bureaucratic procedure for those in ‘unbearable suffering’. The doctor explained that Verhelst’s suffering qualified as unbearable because after six months of counselling he was still suicidal. If that kind of reasoning makes you uncomfortable – if you wonder whether six months of counselling amounts to everything that might have helped Nathan Verhelst – then look away now, because it could be coming to the UK.

If Rob Marris’s assisted suicide bill is passed on 11 September, and survives the rest of its progress through Parliament, this country will become more dangerous for the elderly, the ill, the disabled and the depressed. So say the British Medical Association, Disability Rights UK, and the Royal College of GPs. At the very least, the principle of caution should warn against this bill.

Everyone can feel the pull of the case for assisted suicide. Many people are in physical and psychological pain; they say, repeatedly, that they would rather be dead than alive. Who could possibly be indifferent to their distress, and their hope that it might end?

We experience a stab of guilt, hearing their stories. And guilt is not the worst motive. If it prompts us to help the people at the margins of our own community, or prompts government to improve palliative care, guilt can do a lot of good. But it is a poor basis on which to pass a law which will change the fabric of society. This law will not simply abolish a category of suffering: it will create new ones. The evidence everywhere suggests that the main result of assisted suicide laws is to surround unhappy, lonely people with exit signs.
In Oregon, the supposed paragon of such a law, the chief effect has not been on those in physical pain. Less than a quarter of those receiving poison say they are worried about pain, or even the possibility of pain; the main reasons are ‘loss of autonomy’ (91%) and ‘decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable’ (89%). According to a high estimate, over 30% of recipients in a single year may have had their judgment impaired by undiagnosed depression.

Still, to give Oregon its due, there is a fundamental difference from Britain. Oregon Right to Die, the body behind the law, were from the beginning moderates. Their intention, according to one of their leading figures, Eli Stutsman, was to ‘campaign for the right to die and against Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the same breath’. They were, if you like, doves rather than hawks.

The British right-to-die movement is different. It is a flock of hawks with some official doves fluttering around in the vanguard. The doves assure us that this Bill will go no further than Oregon’s restrictions: it will apply only to the terminally ill. (An elastic category in any case, as the disabilities campaigner Baroness Campbell has pointed out.) But the hawks are more articulate and more consistent in applying the logic of total self-determination. Baroness Warnock, a leading intellectual light of the movement, predicts a future in which ‘you’d be licensing people to put others down’. Polly Toynbee, one of Fleet Street’s most influential voices for a change in the law (and for further changes down the line), concedes the possibility ‘that the frail will be intimidated into hastening the end of their lives so as not to be a burden on their children’. She comments, in a disturbing foretaste of things to come: ‘Well, why not?’ The Economist recently proposed that the opportunity for taking poison be extended to people with depression. Well, in Belgium they are already living the dream. Euthanasia is up 25% on last year, and the law becomes ever less discriminating in its effects.

There, as Rachel Aviv reported in a must-read article for the New Yorker, euthanasia has taken away people with ‘autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, blindness coupled with deafness, and manic depression’. This is scarcely the picture painted by the likes of Dignity in Dying.

In 1931, the great psychologist Carl Jung noted that many of his patients suffered from ‘the senselessness and aimlessness of their lives… I should not object if this were called the general neurosis of our age’. If anything, that diagnosis is truer today. Suicide is the biggest killer of young British men, and the UK is incubating a crisis of loneliness and mental illness. Usually, we try to build hope and solidarity against despair. But Belgium has discovered an alternative. “If the patient’s energy is gone,” one euthanasia doctor tells Aviv, “then it is not humane to say, ‘Well, maybe if you go to a hospital that specializes in your problem for two more years it will help.’ I think we have to respect when people say, ‘No – that is enough.’” Sorry, doctor, but running out of energy is a symptom of depression: a lot of people feel that they have ‘had enough’, are useless, and would be better off dead. It makes all the difference whether they are listened to and given support to carry on. In some places, that seems to be going out of fashion.

The testimony of doctors suggests that when suicide becomes institutionalised, a society becomes anaesthetised to the preciousness of human life. One Dutch doctor recalled the first time he administered euthanasia. The first case was ‘terrible’, he said. His team agonised all day before carrying it out. The next one, he said, was much easier. ‘The third case’, he concluded, ‘was a piece of cake’. That is a report from the bottom of the slippery slope, and it turns out to be quite a short slope. Assisted suicide will weaken the bonds of society. It will nudge towards the edge exactly the people we should be hauling back from it. One day we might be asked if anybody tried to stop it.

To write to your MP, go to http://notoassistedsuicide.org.uk/

Dan Hitchens is a former President of Oxford Students for Life.

Abortion and disability: the case for social justice

Guest blogger: Ruth Akinradewo is a second-year undergraduate studying French and Italian at the University of Oxford. She blogs at The Change Channel.

As a Christian who values the gift of life, the idea of not being opposed to abortion has never been an option for me. Still, of late having had my attention drawn to the distressing repercussions that the legalisation of abortion has had on disabled people, I now find myself faced with an even greater pile of evidence to show the extent of severe harm that termination can bring.

Opposition to abortion is typically, and rightly, focused on the taking away of an innocent life; the notable harm incurred on the mother and others; the paradox of having such a high rate of abortions when there are so many childless couples tenderly awaiting the joy of parenting . . . But few people tend to talk about the fact that terminations provide ammunition for the myth that disabled people are less valuable than the rest of society.

I didn’t know it myself until very recently: current UK law permits the abortion of foetuses deemed to have physical handicaps up to 40 weeks. Medical professionals agree that at 37 weeks the foetus is full-term; moreover, general legislation on abortion in this country caps the cut-off period for termination at 24 weeks. But if the baby doctor looks at a scan of you in your mother’s womb and decides you’re disabled, he and your parents are permitted by law to cut your life short even after you’ve fully developed and possess the necessary characteristics to live and breathe the air of the outside world.

In 2011, 144 abortions were carried out in England and Wales after 24 weeks.

That is scary.

What is more, doctors can be wrong: at last term’s OSFL Pro-Life Feminism panel discussion, Emily Watson spoke of how her mum had been told her brother would be born with Down’s Syndrome and no such thing happened.

The UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Abortion on the Grounds of Disability, which took place in 2013, rightly compared the aims of the 2010 Equality Act, which promises to prohibit discrimination based on disability, with the Abortion Act, which prevents individuals from being guilty of an abortion offence if ‘there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.’

Is it just me or do these two acts of legislation contradict each other?

Shielded by UK law, 2,732 abortions were carried out in 2013 under ground E of the Abortion Act. “Congenital malformations” and “chromosomal abnormalities” were often cited as the reason for implementing the termination. “Down’s syndrome (22% of all such cases) was the most commonly reported chromosomal abnormality.”

I was moved to tears when at the same panel discussion I mentioned earlier, Isabel Errington detailed how one of her friends had defied the doctors and had chosen to carry her disabled baby to term, leaving her only a matter of days to spend in life with him. Despite the brevity of the precious time they spent together, this mother spoke with tenderness of cherishing the gift of a son that she had been given.

The claim that killing off disabled babies is the best course of action for the child (think Richard Dawkins) is not only extremely offensive, it is extremely presumptuous. Who can say before they have given a child the chance to live that their lives will not be worth living?

Try telling that to Nick Vujicic, who, despite being born with neither arms nor legs, obtained a bachelor’s degree, is now an internationally-famous motivational speaker, and a husband and father.

If someone in Nick’s situation can achieve so much despite being “seriously handicapped”, as UK law puts it, then how much more those born with cleft lips and palate, who – yes, it is true – are being aborted under Ground E legislation each year?

With the mind of someone who cares deeply about social justice, I cannot sit still in the face of such injustices. I am inspired by friends and family who suffer or have suffered with disabilities and still rise up each day with fresh vigour to live their lives without being held back.

I cannot bear to see the experiences of people such as these being forgotten or ignored by those that believe they’d be better off dead. Baroness Grey-Thompson, speaking in a talk hosted by OSFL, highlighted that the discrimination that disabled people face shows no signs of abating and I am convinced it is precisely the position assumed by laws such as Ground E of the Abortion Act, that are inhibiting progress and the social justice that the disabled deserve to be a part of.

Five things we learned from Monday’s student parent panel

1. There are many challenges
“I constantly tried to reach out to other student parents,” said Ash Mohanaprakas, who took a year of maternity leave after giving birth to her son two years into her Portugese and Linguistics degree. But they were hard to find. The attitude was that “people come to study, not to have a child.” That’s as true for MBA students, according to Danielle Pearson: “In business…there are very few women, and even fewer mothers” – though Danielle stressed that pregnancy is not a “men vs women issue” but “a family issue”.

Freya Johnston, Director of Graduate Studies at the English Faculty, pointed out that the system often penalises parents. An academic taking maternity leave above a certain level loses her pension; though part-time DPhils will soon be offered, there has been no established route through a degree which doesn’t mean applying for deferrals “as though you were ill”.

2. …but that’s not the whole story
“I try to encourage my fellow businessmen and businesswomen to have children,” said Danielle, “because it broadens your perspective.” Ash agreed: “After having a son, I was far more ambitious. I had to be a good role model.”

“If you think you can make it work,” Freya advised, “you can. But it will be difficult. Your life will be much better in some ways, and more difficult in others.”

3. The childcare system is very hard to negotiate
Both in and out of the University, childcare services are hugely oversubscribed. The panel had some startling tales: of two-year waiting lists for the University service (especially unhelpful when you’ve just started a one-year course); of high and rising daycare fees; of colleges’ reluctance to provide childcare – something not made any easier by the sector’s heavy regulation.

As for the University website, everyone agreed that is out-of-date and unhelpful. “When you go on it,” said Ash, “you’re just doing random searches.”

4. An open and supportive community makes a difference
The panellists mentioned Wolfson, St Anne’s, St Hugh’s and St. Cross – which has an annual student parent mixer event – as especially welcoming. Danielle said, “I love taking my daughter to the business school, partly because it allows my classmates to see what it can be like to be a working parent, a student parent.”

What could us non-parents do to help, an audience member asked? “Babysitting!” came the unanimous reply.

5. There’s a real case for University funding
The BBC reported today that Oxford has raised £2bn of funds for teaching and research, the biggest figure you’ll find outside US higher education. Ash, who works for the University’s Development Office, pointed out that funding is directed towards teaching, research and student support. It doesn’t take much to see student parents as having a stake in all three. And the money is there.

Chair Megan Engel mentioned that MIT had put a lot of resources and thought into their
on-campus childcare centres. Another chance for Oxford to copy an American success story?

(Dan Hitchens)

New study shows the most pro-life Britons are…women and young people

A study from ComRes, out just this week, has shown that women are more likely than men to favour restrictions on abortion, and the younger generation are more pro-life than their parents or grandparents.

Asked whether they would like to bring UK law in line with other European countries by halving the upper limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 12, 43% of women said yes, compared with 32% of men.

The age gap is even bigger than the gender gap: on the same question, 48% of 18-25-year-olds said yes, and only 31% of 55-64-year-olds.

Given that Westminster and the media lean pro-choice, and that feminism and ‘abortion rights’ are often conflated (thought not here at OSFL), these figures – which mirror previous studies – are thought-provoking. Maybe it’s because women know more about pregnancy than men; maybe it’s because young people have grown up familiar with ultrasound images. Or maybe it’s because the practice of sex-selective abortion – which three-quarters of respondents said should be declared illegal – has concentrated the public’s mind.

But it is hard to deny, looking at these figures, that the caricature of the pro-life movement as misogynistic and outdated is a fantasy. And given the study’s other finding – that Labour and Lib Dem voters are more pro-life than UKIP or Tory supporters – it suggests that the ‘right-wing’ tag won’t really stick either.

But of course this is about more than the numbers. That’s why we’re holding a debate next Tuesday on the right to choose and the right to life. Male or female, pro-choice or pro-life, please come along!

(On a related point: a very useful new website, WhereDoTheyStand.org.uk, tells you what your local election candidates have said on life issues.)

(Dan Hitchens)

Pro Life Heroes and Heroines, No. 11: Eduardo Verastegui

When I say the words ‘pro-life activist’ and ‘Hollywood actor’, what are your first thoughts? Oxymoron…. What?… Impossible….Doesn’t Exist!  Yes, those were exactly my thoughts…..until I found out about Eduardo Verastegui, a passionately pro-life Hollywood movie star!

For those of you who didn’t come to our film night last Hilary, Eduardo was one of the main characters in Bella, which received critical acclaim for its moving and imaginative treatment of the difficult issues of life and abortion, depicts one defining day in the life of an expectant young mother and her encounter with a friend who spontaneously steps in to help her. Amazingly, Eduardo actually became pro- life while doing character research for Bella because his director recommended he visit an abortion clinic. During his visit to the abortion clinic he ended up talking with a young actress who was scheduled to have an abortion that day:

“I gave her a little teddy bear just like in the film. I gave her my cell phone number and everything, and then she started crying and she left the place. She didn’t go in, so I thought maybe she was going to come back the next day because she was a little shy with me. I called her like three or four times, [and that was the end of it, or so I thought].”

“We found the actress, moved to New York, finished the film and came back to Los Angeles. A few months later I received a call from the man who was with her. He said, “Eduardo, I have great news. My baby was born yesterday, and I want to ask your permission because I want to call him Eduardo.”I couldn’t even talk. I put my phone down. I was emotional more than I ever was in my life. I went to the hospital and I saw the baby. A few days later I was carrying the baby in my arms, and the way he was looking at me changed my life.He changed my life because I didn’t plan to do this. I went there only to do my work as an actor.”

This experience inspired Eduardo to become more involved in the pro-life movement and since then he has been moving mountains fighting for the rights of the unborn and supporting pregnant women.

In 2010, through his non-profit organization Manto de Guadalupe, he opened a pro-life medical clinic in Los Angeles which he refers to as “an oasis of life” in a “desert of death” because of its location in the midst of 10 abortion clinics. The 5,000-square-foot facility serves 20 women daily and offers free pregnancy-related services such as ultrasounds, prenatal care and natural family planning education. It offers medical services in addition to counseling, and has an obstetrician/gynecologist on staff.

Along with his political activism, Eduardo also travels around the world sharing his testimony and encouraging young people to use their talents for the pro life cause. If that is not enough for pro-life hero status, Eduardo also founded a film company called Metanoia which aims to “produce films that not only entertain but which also make a difference in people’s lives. We want our audience to leave feeling inspired to be a better person wanting to love and forgive more, and that they will have hope and fire in their hearts.”

His next film, Little Boy, out on April 24th, is about a 7-year old boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his father home from WWII. It is a beautiful and inspiring story which highlights the important role of fathers.


Eduardo’s story is such an inspiration and a beautiful example of the fact that each one of us can make a difference whether it be in an Oxford library, outside a local abortion clinic, at your college, in the Parliament or hey…. even in Hollywood!

As another great pro-life heroine said:



Gendercide: the questions pro-choicers don’t want to answer

At the end of February, the House of Commons rejected a bill that sought to spell out the illegality, under the 1967 Abortion Act, of sex-selective abortion. The bill, proposed by Fiona Bruce MP, called for a clarification in the law that the terms of the Act do not allow abortion based on the sex of the unborn. It was shot down 292-201. Many have claimed that sex-selective abortion is illegal, including the Health Secretary. But there’s no explicit stipulation in the law preventing it, as BPAS’s Ann Furedi has pointed out. And the Crown Prosecution Service has twice blocked a prosecution against Drs. Prabha Sivaraman and Palaniappan Rajmohan, whom the Telegraph caught on camera agreeing to procure gender-based abortions in 2012. So the question has to be asked again: is sex-selective abortion legal in Britain? By default and in practice, it seems to be.

This isn’t an easy conclusion to face. The question of sex-selective abortion has cut across typical lines of opinion, perhaps more so than any other question in the abortion debate. Most people, even many who are pro-choice, seem to see something deeply wrong in aborting unborn children – usually girls – based on their sex. The trouble is that once you dig a bit deeper into what exactly is wrong with sex-selective abortion, you end up asking questions that defenders of abortion don’t want to answer.


There are many reasons to be repelled by the idea of sex-selective abortion, or “gendercide” as its critics have dubbed it. For those of us who are repelled by the idea of all abortions, the sexism of gendercide is a blatant insult added to a far more profound injury. For those who don’t object to other reasons for aborting, however, the issue becomes murkier. If it’s acceptable to abort an unborn girl because she’ll be expensive to raise, she has Down Syndrome, or her parents don’t love each other, why isn’t it acceptable to abort her because she’s a girl? Legal abortions are defended as beneficial for women who want to have them; practically speaking, that benefit isn’t altered if the child’s sex is the main motive for a termination.

A number of pro-choice commentators have ended up defending sex-selection, making this very point. But those who defend sex-selective abortion must resort to doing so by fixating on choice in a way that suppresses ethical discussion of the content of that choice. Humans can make good and bad decisions, and the point of ethical discussion is to evaluate what those are. Defending gendercide by giving choice an absolute primacy is a preemptive way of avoiding the real question at hand.

This is a philosophically embarrassing issue for pro-choice feminists. You can’t oppose sex-selective abortions without admitting that abortion is sometimes wrong, and you can’t accept sex-selective abortions without admitting that explicit gender discrimination is sometimes permissible. This is what has made the debate about sex-selective abortion so revealing. This issue calls abortion into question on precisely the grounds that are usually used to defend it, showing that legal abortion may not actually be the feminist victory it’s touted as.

The question of sex-selective abortion isn’t going to go away, and nor should it. Pro-life people who want to win hearts and minds need to push this point, because the gendercide issue draws out serious problems in contemporary pro-choice arguments. And pro-choice people who want to secure the right to abortion even based on the sex of the child need to ask themselves if a feminism that allows for discrimination against and selective destruction of girls is worth defending – or can be called feminism at all.



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