Foetal remains

Three weeks after Fr Ray Blake wrote this post on Thursday 3 September, we discovered that our unborn baby Raphael had died in utero at my 12 week scan, at around 11 weeks gestation.

Raphael was provisionally scheduled to be born tomorrow, 25 March 2014 via elective c-section. It felt like a fortuitous date, not only being the feast of the Annunciation, but it’s also the tenth birthday of my eldest daughter. Our Lady has manifested herself in one way or another in all of my pregnancies – for example, I discovered that I was expecting another of my daughters on the Feast of the Assumption.

No doubt I shall find tonight’s Channel 4, Despatches, difficult viewing, both in terms of content and timing.

As I have written about previously, we were given the remains of our baby to take home and store in the fridge, following medical management of miscarriage. Their body was fully and perfectly formed, only in miniature, which can be verified by a simple internet image search of what a foetus of 11 weeks gestation might look like.

Earlier on this year, I did an interview with the national press as to the horrific circumstances surrounding our miscarriage. Robin had worked in the funeral industry and therefore knew that the hospital could store the baby’s remains, prior to the funeral directors picking them up for burial or cremation. He had done this previously for clients, reputable funeral directors will not charge for the basic cost of children’s funerals (obviously flowers and other disbursements such as a headstone are chargeable) and thought that this would be the normal procedure.

According to a leaflet that can be downloaded  here  issued by the Royal Sussex County Hospital you need to sign a P2 form in order for the mortuary to keep the remains. We therefore asked for this option when I was presented with a P1 form to sign which gives consent for mass cremation, prior to the procedure to induce delivery. Although we were not aware of the disgusting abuses which will be highlighted in tonight’s programme, that babies’ remains could be used to generate heat for hospitals, we knew that there was the possibility for error and that they could potentially be disposed of as clinical waste. Hospital procedure seems to be to shepherd parents into signing the P1 form for mass cremation if they have suffered an early loss.

It was important for us to mark the loss of our baby correctly for a number of reasons;  to acknowledge their humanity, to grieve for him or her, mark his/her brief existence here on earth, accord him/her the dignity and respect s/he deserved as a human being and to pray for Raphael. We felt it was our duty as parents, the one thing we could do to mark our love. Robin in particular felt that it was his duty – it was the one thing that he could do for his baby, ensure that he or she had a proper, dignified and holy funeral and he wanted to accompany the baby to their final resting place.

As the experience bore similarity to the medical abortion I had undergone back in 1997, albeit at an earlier stage, as can be imagined, things had a particular and awful resonance, bringing home in painfully sharp and vivid detail, the lack of respect, dignity and love that had been shown to a previous child who deserved so much more. This dreadful issue of how babies’ bodies have been mistreated throws what happens in abortion clinics and what they do with their remains, into sharp and terrible relief.

When we told the staff of our wish to make private arrangements for our baby they seemed nonplussed, this was obviously an unusual request, but said that they would sort it out. The nurse later returned to us and told us that it wasn’t possible for them to store the remains and we would have to organise matters ourselves, which would mean taking them home with us.

Thus it was, that on the morning of 3 October 2013, I was discharged from the gynaecology ward, clinging to Robin for dear life, following a horrific night in which the process of miscarrying the baby brought about a terrific blood loss, requiring some ad-hoc surgery at 1am on the ward as no theatre was available and for a few hours of IV fluids. Therefore as they gave me the form to sign from the previous day which they had amended to state that we wanted to take the remains home, I didn’t think to quibble or query. I was exhausted, could barely stand, emotionally overwrought and just wanted to go home to my own bed and sleep.

It didn’t occur to me to say “Hang on, can I have the P2 form, you’ve just crossed out the details on the P1” or “why can’t you look after my baby”? I was tired, vulnerable and was doing as I was told. The hospital said that they wouldn’t store the remains, I wasn’t in the mood to fight with them over it, or ask why not. Maybe it’s a uniquely British trait, a class thing or a mixture of the two but like so many,  meekly accepted what I was told and fell in line with procedure.

I’ve blurred out my personal identity details, but here is the form I signed. You can see it is a modified P1, not the P2 specified on the leaflet. How many women dealing with the aftermath of a miscarriage, really think to quibble over paperwork. Robin thought it odd that the hospital wouldn’t help us by keeping the baby – but I was too tired to quibble over this wording which they had written in – “couple has requested to take remains home” and just signed what was put in front of me.

Baby Raphael Release form
We didn’t ask to take home our ‘products of conception’.

So it was, we found ourselves leaving the ward, taking the cramped tiny lift down from level 11 of the Thomas Kemp tower, so familiar to us and any families or women who have had a baby in Brighton. It was one of the most painful experiences of our married life. The lift had so many previous happy associations with pregnancy, maternity and newborns, we had carried three of our newborn children down to the car, their tiny bodies bundled in a blanket and strapped into the carseat, ready to face the world, and this time there was nothing to show for the familiar trek, aside from a tiny body in a jar in Robin’s pocket. As we were leaving the ward they apologised that they had nothing more appropriate than a sample jar, to which a generic printed label was affixed advising that the remains ought to be refrigerated.

Just as we’d stepped in the lift, another couple with their beautiful newborn in a carseat sprouting a full head of hair and a healthy pink bloom joined us. The air was heavy with anticipation and excitement. They were wearing the exhausted but happy look, intermingled with a pinch of panic and disbelief, which is the exclusive preserve of parents. We were probably the first strangers they had met since leaving the ward. What a lovely baby you have, I said, trying not to let the words catch in my throat or let on any hint of tragedy lest I should cast any hint of sadness on their special day, or spoil their big moment, trying not to think of the lifeless pallid corpse in my husband’s pocket.

So we got home, I went to bed and Robin did what the label told him to and placed the baby in the spare inbuilt  fridge we use for beakers of drinks and snacks, where they remained for the next week, before we obtained a casket and buried the baby in the grounds of our parish church. Looking back on it, I can’t quite believe that we actually did that, we put our baby in our drinks fridge! I guess we were in a state of shock and so it was easier just to mindlessly follow instructions. We stopped the children from going into the kitchen and helping themselves during that period for obvious reasons, but every time I open the fridge door, I have to rid myself of the image in my head.

The press pulled the story for legal reasons as the Royal Sussex County hospital denied that they would ever treat anyone in such a way and that we must have definitely requested to take the remains home ourselves. When you compare our story with Fr Ray’s parishioner and other testimonies about the Royal Sussex, it definitely raises questions about their attitude, especially when one sees the disrespect with which the bodies of other babies were treated around the country. Both of us have been left angered by the implication by the Royal Sussex that we are lying. No grieving parents would wish to have to take home their baby’s remains.

At least we have the comfort of knowing that we did the right thing by our baby. Our mistrust that they may not treat the remains with the respect they deserve was not unmerited. How awful for any parent who miscarried at those particular hospitals, knowing what may have happened to their babies.

This is what happens in a society with such a disrespect for the life of the unborn. I wonder what those who advocate for abortion up until birth, or at a much later stage would make of this? It takes the concept of green energy to a new level.

Abortion: Breaking the Silence in the Church

Robert Colquhoun has organised the following event which looks certain to be a sell-out. I strongly recommend for anyone with an interest in promoting the pro-life cause in their local parish, the timings are designed to be convenient for both families and pastors and priests. The seminar is open to Christians of all denominations.


Breaking the silence in the Church

St Wilfrid’s Hall, Oratory House, Brompton Road, London, SW7 2RP

The talk is at 3pm on 28 January 2014 and is repeated at 7pm.

Helping Christians respond with humility, compassion and understanding

Robert Colquhoun and Jonathan Jeffes

The purpose of the seminar is to introduce you to a programme called Breaking the Silence. It is a teaching resource to help Christians navigate the sensitivities and raise the issue within their own Churches.

Over one third of all women in Britain will have an abortion at some point in their life. Despite its widespread acceptance in contemporary society, a powerful and uncomfortable silence has grown up around abortion in the Church.

What should Christians think and say about abortion?

This talk aims to help Christians to break the silence.

YOU will discover…

  •  An overview of tradition Christian teaching and theology
  • Analysis of why there is an uncomfortable silence in the Church
  • A simple strategy for change to help Christians listen to others and respond to the issue with humility, compassion and understanding.
  • Practical advice including guidance on speaking about abortion with sensitivity in a Church setting, and on handling it compassionately as a pastoral issue.

Jonathan Jeffes is a crisis pregnancy counsellor and has led post-abortion recovery groups for women and men for over twenty years. It is from the perspective of those who have experienced abortion in the past that Jonathan writes and speaks from. He is a regular speaker in Churches and theological colleges in the UK and is the author of two books on the subject.

Robert Colquhoun is the UK campaign director and international outreach co-ordinator for 40 Days for Life.

Abby Johnson and the UK abortion industry

Abby johnson

Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic is here in the UK to give a series of talks about her experiences and what motivated her to turn her back on the abortion industry.

She appeared on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 this morning (the interview commences at 1 minute 10 into the broadcast) against Lisa Hallgarten, former director of Education for Choice and pro-choice advocate.

What struck me about the interview was Lisa’s blanket denials that abortion constitutes anything other than an industry, claiming that abortion providers are not-for-profit charities. Being a registered charity denotes tax status only. Private schools constitute charities, because like abortion providers they are supposed to be providing a public service, they are not accountable to shareholders or take huge dividends, but their very existence depends upon demand and repeat custom. Independent abortion providers run their organisations along the same lines as any other business, they have marketing departments, formulate business plans, try to maximise revenue streams and any profits are ploughed back into consolidating and expanding their market share. In addition their managing directors are paid well above industry standards in terms of salary packages, Tim Black CEO of Marie Stopes, currently earns £125,000. Any measures that proposed to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in the UK would drastically threaten their existence, which is why we see figures such as Ann Furedi proclaiming ‘there is no right number of abortions’.

BPAS latest statement of accounts set out their financial objectives, which include generating a surplus of £2.1 million, increasing the number of NHS contracts won, notably by expanding into London, the South West and South East, as well as embedding a public education and engagement programme to build support for the BPAS mission, including lobbying for policy changes in terms of early abortion, increasing their local,  national and international profile through promotion of services and to establish a network of European referrers. This is the fifth year in a row that BPAS has reported an increase in trading surplus, and the plan for 2012/2013 is to build on the financial successes of future years.

But clearly not a business. As a point of note, Ann Furedi’s salary is not listed, however 1 employee is listed as being paid between £120,000 and £130,000 per annum. Given that her counterpart at Marie Stopes earns £125,000 it’s safe to assume that Ann’s salary would be of an equivalent level. In terms of charitable activities, BPAS note that they wrote off loans to clients, totalling £2,500 and they waived abortion fees to the sum of £24, 491. That equates to 41 early medical abortions, or 24  surgical abortions between 9 and 18 weeks, or 18 late stage abortions. Compared with the £26 million of annual income generated, and the aim to increase their operating surplus to £2.1 million, £27,000 spent on helping a handful of cash-strapped clients, doesn’t strike one as the epitome of munificence for a charity claiming to be of significant public benefit.

The other point that Lisa wanted to make to counter Abby was the excellence of the service and counselling provided by abortion clinics. Correctly identifying that most women who present at an abortion clinic have already made their mind up to have an abortion, Lisa takes this as proof that their choices must therefore be informed and correct and they will have sought advice elsewhere, especially from families.

Families don’t tend to be very good at the gold standard of ‘impartial  non directive counselling’ in my experience, nor are close friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, we are all entitled to impart our views and values if someone asks us informally for advice if they are facing a tough situation, but why is it better for a woman to be convinced that an abortion is the right course of action for her against an instinct to keep the baby, as opposed to a woman whose instinct is that she cannot have a baby to be persuaded otherwise?

Marie Stopes did not provide me with “gold standard, second to none care” in terms of counselling or the procedure itself. No-one explored other options with me and nor was there any acknowledgement or sense that I was facing a choice. Far from it, the ‘counsellor’ listened to the reasons why I felt that I should have an abortion and made no attempt to explore my fears or concerns, to test their validity, neither did she prepare me for the fact that I might face trauma, either directly afterwards, or that this may affect my mental health in future pregnancies.

I was told that an abortion was obviously the only course of action and that I was in no position to deal with a baby. Adoption was never even suggested or mentioned. The attitude was one of confirming my negativity and fears.

The physical care was pretty dreadful too. I wasn’t informed until after the misoprostol tablets were inserted that I could expect to experience a ‘mini labour’. The overriding image imprinted on my brain is one of ‘horseshoes’. I remember doubling over in pain in a cramped toilet cubicle, feeling as though I had been repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a horse. A nurse making a routine check of the toilets spotted me vomiting profusely into the sink. “That’s great” she said “it shows it’s really working well”. Resting my burning forehead against the cool tiles above the basin, in-between bouts of retching and convulsing into a ball on the floor due to excruciating stomach pains, I vowed never ever to go through childbirth. It’s no wonder that women who have experienced an early abortion have an innate fear of childbirth, it is forever associated with terrible pain, isolation, loneliness, desolation and despair. Pain, blood and mess with nothing to show at the end of it. I had an innate urge to walk up and down the ornate balustraded staircase (the procedure itself took place at Marie Stopes’ Barking facility) to alleviate the pain, but the staff were having none of it, trying to hustle me back into a bed. Lying still was the worst possible course of action, I was like a caged, rabid animal, pacing the premises, desperate to do something to soothe the excruciating pain wracking my body and for the whole experience to be over.

The sympathy, care and understanding from the staff was non-existent. They wanted me out of the way, safely in a ward or bed, not wandering around the joint with my contorted expressions of pain and clutching my stomach.

It’s one of the reasons why my recent miscarriage was quite so traumatic, as I had to go through an almost identical procedure, only this time my baby had already died of natural causes. The difference in care and treatment between the staff on a NHS gynae ward and an abortion clinic to whom the NHS has contracted out abortion provision, could not have been more marked. Every single member of staff I spoke to, introduced themselves with the opening phrase “I’m so sorry to have to be seeing you in these circumstances”, acknowledging that I was losing a baby, not getting rid of some unwanted unspecified lump of tissue, or treating me like a stupid adolescent who had been caught out for not taking better care of herself.  Though one hears of horror stories, the staff on level 11 of the Royal Sussex County hospital offered sympathetic and compassionate care right from the moment that we learnt that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. Whether or not a baby is wanted makes all the difference in terms of whether or not it is treated as a human being or a woman as a grieving mother. The abortion clinics cannot treat women as mothers losing a baby for obvious reasons. To do so would render their  biological sophistry untenable.

In comparison to Marie Stopes who offered me nothing in terms of pain relief, the NHS offered to throw everything in their gamut, from liquid morphine to entenox if necessary. Using the same medication as on offer from the abortion clinics, I was kept in overnight and ending up losing almost two litres of blood and needing emergency treatment in the middle of the night to remove trapped placental tissue causing an enormous hemorrhage.

That the abortion providers wish to push this treatment for women to take at home, is utterly beyond me. Had I been home there could have been a medical catastrophe with the added trauma of young children as witnesses. Admittedly my miscarriage was later than the abortion, however the physical pain in both instances was identical. If abortion clinics purport to care so much about the welfare of women, why do they not provide adequate pain relief beyond paracetamol or ibuprofen?

Of course that would cost, not only in terms of the drugs themselves but also the supervision required of women who were administered opiates or entenox as well as someone competent and able to prescribe them, such as a qualified doctor. It wouldn’t help achieve the £2 million target of operating surplus. If pro-lifers were to campaign for adequate pain relief for women experiencing medical abortion, it would be written off as a wish to punish women, but god forbid we were to level a similar charge at the benevolent clinics.

Lisa Hallgarten was at pains to differentiate the UK from the US in terms of abortion provision. Personally I don’t see a lot of difference, simply that the UK’s abortion industry is more slick and has been more successful in terms of leveraging the typical British sentiment to contain messiness  behind closed doors, eschew all expressions of disgust and keep the aspidistra flying.

Frederica Mathewes-Green famously stated “no woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg”.

Abortion clinics act as the wire-cutters, coming along to cut and disentangle the wires in exchange for a fee and often inflicting damage as severe on the trapped woman, as bad as had she gnawed her own leg off in the first place. A humane society would campaign for no traps. But what the pro-life movement and organisations aim to do is show the woman that the trap is not is not as threatening or dangerous as she feared and enable to make her way out, free of damage and intact.

Increasing the number of wire-cutters in the form of abortion clinics does nothing to prevent the laying of traps. If as a rabbit you wanted to cross a pasture full of enticing clover, littered with traps, would you really trust the man you’d have to pay for wire cutters to help you navigate a path to avoid them?

Hard cases and political footballs

This excellent piece by Melanie McDonagh in the Spectator about the perceived BBC bias with regards to Northern Ireland’s abortion law, alerted me to the tragic case of Sarah Ewart, who discovered at her 20-week scan that her unborn baby had the severest form of spina bifida and was anencephalic as a result, namely the baby did not have any skull bones. This meant that her baby would die following a traumatic birth in which labour would need to be induced, the lack of skull would mean that there would be no pressure to cause natural labour.

Sincere sympathies to Ms Ewart. Any pro-lifer who rushes in to condemn her as a result of her decision to travel to England for an abortion should hang their head in shame and reconsider whether or not they ought to be a part of the pro-life movement.

This is one of those cases that stretches all of us to our limits where the pro-life lobby needs to be exceptionally cautious before throwing around cold, hard, legalistic definitions of moral theology, which can seem lacking in empathy, in order to justify the best course of action in such a terrible situation.

While Melanie McDonagh is right to identify the underlying agenda of Jim Naughtie, her point that “most people would accept that a baby without a head is, to all intents and purposes, not a baby” requires further analysis.

Firstly the definition of personhood is not dependent on the presence of any one part of the body. A person who is missing a limb is no less of a person than an able-bodied person. In this distressing case, it is not that there is no head whatsoever, but that no bones have formed in the head. Without wishing to dwell upon the gruesome detail, there will be a brain and presumably a face, but no bone to support the mass. So it isn’t accurate to say that the baby was not a person, or not alive or even lacked a head, but that he or she would not have been able to live outside of the womb.

Personhood is not defined by location, or the eight inches of the birth canal. A person does not suddenly become more human or more alive, by virtue of their passage down the birth canal, or through the walls of the abdomen, in the case of a cesarian.  Location does not determine a human’s worth or value. The process of birth does not render a baby any more human or alive. Neither does mental capacity. A six week old baby is not less of a person because they lack mental reasoning skills,  in the same way that someone suffering from Alzheimer’s is no less of a person, nor someone in a temporary coma for example.

The law in Northern Ireland  rightly does not allow foetal abnormality as grounds for abortion, which should not be controversial. A civilised society should not approve the principle that people should be terminated on the grounds that they are not able-bodied and therefore their lives of lesser value.

Awful situations such as these are precisely where we must carefully apply principles of moral theology . We cannot commit an intrinsically  evil action in order to bring about a good.

The problem is that the abstract often seems cold, hard, unfeeling and dogmatic when applied to real people and real situations. We cannot forget that there is a real person involved at the centre of such suffering. It’s a difficult balance between not allowing sentiment or empathy to determine what is the correct course of action and yet abandoning all empathy in the process of applying a general principle. Hard cases do make bad law, the heartbreaking situation faced by Sarah Ewart does not justify killing humans in utero en masse as a result of their disability.  Cases such as those of Sarah Ewart are thankfully exceptionally rare, which is another reason, why the law should not be changed, especially not when one considers that a similar law in the UK allows for babies with completely correctable and reversible conditions such as cleft palate, to be aborted up until birth.

I would like to think that were in Sarah Ewart’s position, I would carry the baby to term, the key part of that sentence being “I would like to think that”. It’s a huge ask, even as someone who counts themselves an absolutist in pro-life terms, one of those hardcore extremist nutters, I would be lying if I tried to claim that continuing a pregnancy in such circumstances would be easy. No doubt there would be times that I would scream, rage and rail about the injustice and cruelty of it all and hand on heart I cannot state in any certainty that if I were in Sarah Ewart’s position and carrying the baby til term, I would not have a physical and nervous collapse. And that’s speaking from the position of a pro-lifer who knows that to take the life of an unborn baby is innately wrong and unjustifiable.

I would have the comfort of my faith and unlike many people, the support of a religious community to sustain me, alongside the innate knowledge that morally, I was doing the right thing. But it would not be, by any means easy. When my  unborn baby passed away in utero, I only had to live with that knowledge for ten days, which felt like an interminable and unbearable period of time. I cannot begin to image what it must be like for someone in Sarah Ewart’s position, I have previously posted the joyful and courageous  witness of the parents of an anencephalic baby, but even Colin did not suffer from the condition with such severity. We cannot forget the nature of the condition of the baby, would mean that the birth would be infinitely more traumatic than in other circumstances of stillbirth or neo-natal death due to disability.

Even for a pro-lifer there is a dichotomy between not taking direct action to kill one’s own unborn child and taking action to save one’s own health and sanity, which would in my case have an impact on my existing children.

Knowing that I would struggle, is it therefore fair to impose my moral values upon Sarah Ewart and dictate what her course of action should be?

No-one could or should blame Sarah Ewart for her decision to travel to England for an abortion and neither should the law be so lacking in compassion that any doctors who assisted her in abortion in this terribly rare and upsetting case be prosecuted, for wanting to spare her a horrific ordeal. We should not be ordering or compelling her to be brave, insisting that there is no way that the termination of her pregnancy should be tolerated.  This is a far cry from the situation we have in the UK whereby doctors pre-sign batches of forms authorising the abortion of babies on the grounds that they are female.

This is one of those genuinely hard cases and limited circumstances in which doctors should be able to use their discretion in terms of treating a mother without fear of consequences. Was there  really no way that the process of double effect, whereby action could be taken to treat the mother which would indirectly result in the death of the child, could be applied?  I suspect an easier solution may have been to have performed a cesarian at the point of viability, say 24 weeks, so that the baby could pass away naturally and swiftly and to spare her the ordeal of late-stage abortion and a traumatic birth experience, a decision which could well in time, have rendered the process of grieving easier.

That’s only my personal opinion however in the absence of more detailed medical evidence about this  particular case. It seems to me that what was at fault here was not the abortion law in Northern Ireland, but rather its application. One has to wonder why the medics involved in this case, could not bring themselves to be a little more creative and more compassionate in their interpretation of the law? Why could no-one be brave enough to put their neck on the line for a woman in terrible and desperate circumstances, caring more for a rigid interpretation of the law, that could then be exploited for political purposes,  than the overall welfare of Mrs Ewart. Or was it that abortion was not the only option in this case?

In any event, surely she deserved better than to be used as a political football and unfortunate poster-girl for a law that could potentially cause the deaths of those with wholly treatable conditions? Or are pro-choicers guilty of projection when they accuse the pro-life lobby of putting dogmatic belief before the best interests of the individual?

Whatever the answer, our thoughts, prayers and sympathies should be with Sarah Ewart and her child.


Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship has written a compelling, sensitive and scientific piece on the realities of an anencephalic baby. It puts an entirely new spin on events, detailing what an anencephalic baby would look like. Though I thought I had understood the condition, the way Mrs Ewart’s case was reported was incredibly misleading.

Had I been in possession of this information, then the post would have been written along similar lines to that of Dr Saunders. I guess there’s a lesson for us all in there somewhere.

Disability dilemmas – what should the Catholic Church/pro-life movement ‘do’?

Abortion of unborn children diagnosed with abnormalities is back on the agenda with the publication of the abortion statistics for 2012, which showed a sharp rise in the number of children aborted due to disabilities, up 17% on 2011 figures. As I explain in this week’s Universe, this demonstrates a gulf between the national attitudes on display during the Paralympics and those on an individual basis. We are all delighted to cheer on our athletes in the spirit of patriotism, but fewer of us are prepared to actually get our hands dirty when it comes to the more difficult task of caring for a disabled child. A parliamentary commission has pointed out that the way the abortion laws are being applied amounts to little more than eugenics, and is ‘unfit for a civilised society’. If the rules surrounding abortion for babies diagnosed with disabilities are to be reformed or tightened up, the Catholic Church and pro-life movement can expect scrutiny in terms of what they actually do to help the disabled in society.

One of the regular tropes trotted out by pro-choicers is that Catholics only really care about the unborn baby; once the baby is born or saved from abortion we then wash our hands and absolve ourselves of all responsibility. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of the Good Counsel Network for example, they offer support for as long the mother requires it. Over the past few weeks, a few Catholics have been agitating on social media that the Catholic Church and/or pro-life organisations should do more for the disabled, such as paying for respite care for the mothers or carers of disabled children and adults, if they are going to campaign for an end to abortion on the grounds of foetal abnormality.

This concept needs a little unpacking before uncritical acceptance.

In the case of the Catholic Church, it does do an awful lot for disabled children and adults, but on a local level according to the Catholic tenet of subsidiarity. Whether one is referring to either the Catholic Church or the pro-life movement, we should steer away from the socialist notion that everything should be centrally controlled, whether that be by the state, the ‘Church’ or a pro-life organisation. The Catholic Church has several voluntary societies such as the St Vincent de Paul Society, to name just one, which does exactly the work of supporting and providing practical help to the vulnerable in society, such as struggling families, the elderly and disabled of all ages. Catholic parishes have rostas for visiting the sick and pull together in an informal way to help those in their community who are vulnerable or in need of support in times of crisis. I can give numerous examples of acts of generosity and I don’t mean in purely financial terms, actually far more difficult is to give of one’s time and yet I’ve seen members of a parish help a struggling mother with ad hoc free childcare or picking up children from school, cooking meals for an elderly infirm neighbour, volunteering to look after a disabled child for a few hours on a regular basis or help out an elderly couple where one has Altzheimers and so on. The fact that this is not centrally organised or formally recognised, does not mean that it doesn’t happen. Of course there does need to be some formal organisation, but usually it’s done at a local level.

Outside of parish level, Catholic schools, both in the independent and state sector strongly encourage their pupils to participate in voluntary work and there are schemes which see pupils run and participate in activities such as Riding for the Disabled, Swimming and sports clubs, residential weeks for disabled and underprivileged children, in order to foster mutually enriching relationships and a sense of responsibility and community. Catholic Children’s societies do much work in terms of providing respite care and helping families as well as advocating for the rights of the disabled in society. Individual dioceses have pastoral teams exactly for this purpose, including helping people to receive the most out of the sacraments and general specialised support groups.

So it’s rather unfair to claim that the Catholic Church doesn’t actually do anything for those with disabilities, anyone who has ever been on any sort of organised diocesan pilgrimage to a place such as Lourdes, will see exactly the sort of attitude that the Catholic Church adopts towards the disabled, the Catholic Church not simply consisting of ‘The Vatican’ but the members of all the faithful around the globe. Incidentally it’s inside a Catholic church that one is most likely to frequently encounter a large gathering of those with various physical or learning disabilities. Here’s the little boy who took his First Holy Communion with my daughter.

The HCPT Lourdes Pilgrimage

As a rule I’m generally reluctant to validate by engaging with the notion that the Catholic Church doesn’t care about the disabled once they are born, because this accusation is usually thrown about by those who have little knowledge or experience of what does go on and even if they did, would still find something to criticise. It is the kind of thinking that dictates that the Church should spend all its time engaged in voluntary and practical work (for certain approved politically correct causes) mopping up social problems such as poverty but should have absolutely no voice in terms of formulating the policies whose side-effects they are expected to resolve.

In any event should the Church pay for respite care for disabled children and adults, outside of what it does already, if it is serious about ending abortion on the grounds of disability?

The first question we have to ask is whether or not the Church or any pro-life organisation would actually have sufficient funds to provide for this? I suspect the answer would be no. The annual income of all the UK major pro-life organisations combined would not begin to cover respite care for every single disabled child or adult. We also know that contrary to Dawkins’ assertions that the Church is not actually awash with cash and does not have that much liquidity, especially at parish level. But perhaps both pro-life organisations and churches ought to campaign for more donations on this basis?

Perhaps, but the fundamental question here, is whether or not the Church or pro-life organisations ought to be doing this work for the government? It’s true that in medieval times the Church was fundamental in terms of setting up schools, hospitals, communities to care for the sick, the needy, the poor and so on, but this was in the days before taxes. We live in an entirely different, allegedly more civilised society under which we are obliged to give a significant proportion of our income to the government to order our society and therefore surely it is entirely encumbant upon the government to make such provision for respite care and look after the most vulnerable unless it wants to lift all taxation.

Would it really help if various Catholic institutions were to replicate what happens already? Besides which levels of respite care and assistance are entirely dependent on the nature of the disability which is why best practice enables families to be given a certain budget and determine their care plan themselves according to their own specific circumstances and needs.

Would the promise of paid respite care actually tempt women into keeping their unborn babies? Most women who decide to abort a baby with a foetal abnormality do not so lightly or because their baby is less than perfect, but out of fear. What the recent parliamentary commission on abortions on the grounds of disability heard, was countless tales of how women felt that medical professionals bounced them into a decision; that they really felt that they had little other choice, and no other options were put to them. So part of the solution has to be a more empathetic and open to real choice medical profession, especially in the areas of foetal medicine and gynaecology. When diagnosing foetal abnormalities, the baby is measured against a standard of perfection, when in reality none of us are physically perfect. We often hear terrible cases of young men and women dropping down dead because of an undiagnosed heart defect that they have had since birth. Tragic whilst those cases are (and more preventative measures should be taken), the parents of those individuals never lament the birth of their child or wish they had never been born, instead they celebrate lifetimes of joy and achievement. Would they have taken a different decision had they been informed that their baby could drop down dead at any minute during the 20 week scan?

The problem with many of these diagnoses is that they are invariably worst case scenarios, when the reality is that no-one really knows with much certainty until the baby is born. Many readers will be able to give anecdotes of diagnoses of severe physical abnormality and dire prognoses only to go on to deliver a perfectly healthy baby. Only yesterday I heard yet another such tale myself. Here’s a little girl who was diagnosed with a condition incompatible with life . Even when the diagnoses are correct, they only tell a one-sided story that involves only heartbreak and suffering with never any mention of love, joy, fulfilment, laughter or contentment. This is behind the screening for Downs Syndrome – the condition is deemed to be so unutterably dreadful and makes life so miserable and difficult, that parents need to be give the choice to abort. The pro-choicers have gone beserk over the case of Father Vander Woude, who was inundated with responses to an appeal for prospective adoptive parents of an unborn baby with Downs Syndrome, claiming that abortion is the better or only option for those babies with Down Syndrome. A sentiment which Francis Philips, whose daughter has Downs, would vociferously refute.

In many many cases, it’s not necessarily money, but fear, especially of the unknown. Perhaps if there is something the church or pro-life organisations could do is organise support groups for those diagnosed with these conditions (some already exist) or help in assisting local groups for mothers and fathers of babies and young toddlers with various conditions. Parents faced with this situation are currently forced to rely for remote internet help and support, as due to abortion, babies diagnosed with difficulties are few and far between.

Even if organisations were able to offer a limitless supply of cash for respite, it would still make no difference to some mothers. The barrier is not purely financial, it’s about having the confidence in one’s ability to parent a child with disabilities, especially if you already have children. Parenting a child is hard and time consuming as well as immeasurably rewarding, it requires graft and self-sacrifice. Unfortunately words and concepts such as those tend to be alien and almost taboo in today’s society, self sacrifice, duty and responsibility have a negative rather than heroic and aspirational quality. Which is one of the reasons why mothers abort healthy children too. They fear they don’t have the capacity or ability to mother and the ideal of self-sacrifice is seen as the enemy of the dominant narrative or zeitgeist of self autonomy. It might be judgemental but sadly true in some cases. Some women neither believe in, nor want to be self-sacrificial, a child should fulfil them and on their terms, not understanding the fulfilment that can be found in sacrifice. Some women simply don’t want the work, effort or responsibility that comes with having a child, no matter what any pro-life organisation does, they cannot and should not seek to entirely remove the responsibility from the woman’s shoulders, but rather help her to bear it.

Which feeds into the final point about handing out cash willy-nilly to mothers or provision of free childcare or respite care to pregnant women. Help that is offered should never ever be in the form of a bribe, but instead to help a woman overcome the barriers to saving her child’s life. These barriers will differ from person to person, money is not always the overriding issue. A Catholic solution is holistic, it’s joined up, it’s helping the mother to reach her potential as a mother, rather than treating the child as a barrier to personal fulfilment or individual success. Part of this should involve a spiritual element. By saying to a woman, ‘okay we’ll pay for all your respite care and/or all your childcare’ it treats the child as an object or problem. No single mothers of young children (or indeed any mothers of young children) should be forced, coerced or encouraged to work. Children should not be placed full-time in nurseries, which often lead to poorer outcomes for children, if they are to flourish.

Throwing money at people to put their children in childcare or to provide respite care, buys into the narrative that children, whether able-bodied or not, are a burden to be overcome. Encouraging women of young children to go out to work consolidates the feminist Marxist agenda that is profoundly anti-women and seeks to force women and mothers in the workplace against their wishes and is an attack on the family. (Studies show that an overwhelming majority of mothers wish to stay at home with their children). Pro-life is about so much more than cash or consolidating a culture of dependency or entitlement. No amount of cash will mitigate the personal responsibility or additional work involved in child-raising unless one pays for a full time carer, 24/7.

A blanket offer of respite care consolidates the idea that disabled children are just so unbearably difficult and demanding that parents will need to be able to escape at every possible opportunity. Propagating this physically unattainable ideal also implicitly validates abortion of disabled children, stating that because insufficient respite care is available, the decision to abort is justifiable because the woman has no other option. The decision may be understandable, but never morally valid, no matter how hard that may be for many to read. We also need to be extremely careful not to feed the abortionist’s mantra that pro-life is about quality of life as opposed to sanctity, whilst at the same time assisting parents and children to maximise the former.

The Catholic Church or pro-life organisations should not let the government off the hook in terms of its responsibilities to the disabled. We should not seek to replicate existing provision but to complement. If there are gaps in provision we should look to identify and see what we can do to rectify and be inspired by the documents of the Second Vatican Council which implored the laity to take on more responsibility in terms of lay apostolates of this nature. I mentioned the Good Counsel Network earlier, they are an excellent example of this, in that having identified a need, they have set up a wholly Catholic apostolate. Surely this is what we are called to do as Catholics, to tailor a solution that is holistic, not simply financial or practical but one that addresses spiritual needs and has a strongly Catholic flavour. Otherwise we become little more than social workers.

Ultimately we shouldn’t sit in our armchairs, with a ‘somebody should do something’ attitude, pontificating what the Catholic Church or pro-life organisations should do, but actually be pro-active in setting up whichever initiatives we feel are necessary.

Much is done already by many in terms of caring for the vulnerable in society, no doubt more can be done. But the first job has to be doing whatever we can, which includes political action and highlighting the unjust and appalling attitudes towards those with disabilities simply because they are in utero. There’s no point campaigning for better respite care, better facilities, fairer legislation or railing against unfair benefit cuts for the disabled, if we turn a blind eye to the despicable prejudice that seeks to deny people the opportunity to life, the most basic human right of all.

God willing, abortion on the basis of disability may soon be a thing of the past. When all are accorded the equal right to life, it will then be the opportune moment to review what can be done better in terms of supporting those with disabilities, which will naturally include relationships with other agencies and charities. If we allow everyone to be born, the government will be forced to up its game and provision. But at the rate we are going we will soon have a raft of legislative measures, buildings with wheelchair ramps and so forth and yet no-one to use them.

Abolition and abortion: Part 1 – fetishisation and blazons

Unsurprisingly a natural sympathy exists between the Abolition Movement and pro-life politics, both being concerned with gross violations of the most basic of human rights and the barbaric treatment meted out to our fellow humans. Much of the rhetoric employed by the pro-life lobby overtly draws parallels between the two movements. In this interview Andy Stephenson of Abort 67, describes how many women don’t like the analogy of the slave-trade with abortion, as they don’t like to be compared with slave-owners, but as Andy explains, it is not the individual woman who is being compared with the slave-masters, but the abortion industry as a whole, which seeks to overpower and exploit vulnerable human beings as commodities to be extinguished at will. Even Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of BPAS admits that a young embryo is a human life.

Not only is the analogy correct, but there are also similarities in terms of the tactics of the two lobbies. The abolition movement fetishised the black body in order to emphasise the common humanity between people of all nationalities in way that appears racist and bordering on the obscene to postmodern eyes.

White perceptions associated sexuality with the uncivilised woman, as William Blake’s engraving for John Stedman’s 1795 polemic demonstrates.

Blake's anti-slavery engraving
William Blake’s anti-slavery engraving

Whilst the engraving was meant to highlight the barbarity and look of pain as the woman was severely punished, it also did much to whet appetites and reinforce negative racial stereotypes back in Blighty.

Josiah Wedgewood’s evocative anti-slavery icon made a blazon out of the enchained black male form, which soon became de-rigeur on pendants or brooches of the upper and middle-classes, no self-respecting salon or gathering was complete without a symbol of awareness of what was the burning issue of the day.


The same fetishisation is apparent in the pro-life movement. We too are not averse to making a blazon of the human form.

The iconic baby in the womb
The iconic baby in the womb

A quick click on Abort67’s website will display painful and distressing images similar to Blake’s portrayals of man’s inhumanity to man. SPUC’s tiny feet badges, an essential addition to the lapels of all Catholic clergy and laity, are today’s equivalent of Wedgewood’s medallions.


This fetishisation is not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps the lesson we can learn from the abolitionists is that of thoughtfulness. Whilst Wedgewood and Blake could not predict how future generations would interpret their portrayals, a note of caution needs to be struck. Visual reminders of the humanity of the unborn child are useful, but fetishisation is a form of objectification, we need to remember that though the portrayals of the unborn child in utero are always breathtakingly beautiful, the reason why is because this is human life in all its inspirational and awesome majesty. Christians will be reminded of the Incarnation, of how Christ humbled himself to become like us, this is the state that He once took, but we need to be wary of falling into the saccharine, ‘cute ickle baby’ trap, no matter how undeniably gorgeous the image. We don’t love each other or our children on looks alone, but because of who we are, because of that bond of common humanity, which we should nurture, respect and cherish regardless of whether one is a babbling newborn. And it is precisely this humanity, this solidarity that we have with all other human beings, that transcends barriers of age, social class, gender, race and creed that makes fetishisation so dangerous. The blastocyst is no less worthy of respect and yet it doesn’t easily lend itself to the pro-life cause, public imagination is not caught by the image of a cluster of mistreated and sometimes experimental cells, even though every single human being alive on this planet once had the identical physical form. We are not mere objects to be used in a utilitarian way, but people with our own unique destiny.

This is just what I looked like when I was 3 days old. Such a looker!
This is just what I looked like when I was 3 days old. Such a looker!

And of course, this is one of the difficulties of using images of aborted babies, although they can prove extremely useful. (This thoughtful non graphic article on the priests4life website that deals with graphic images is one of the best I’ve seen and closely reflects my own position). It takes wilful ignorance, sophistry and blindness to declare that the horrific photographs of the 24 week aborted baby was merely a lump of tissue. It’s also been extremely illuminating watching a friend attempt to pin down various hardcore Irish abortion activists who admit that even they are not happy with the concept of late-stage abortion, as to what stage they feel abortion would be acceptable. An answer has not yet been forthcoming.

Abort 67 are following in the footsteps of the abolitionists by trying to visually demonstrate the truth that is abortion. It’s a tactic that many have misgivings over, but the parallels are demonstrable.

This image was in no way scientifically accurate or precise in its depiction, but its shock value was seminal in terms of changing the hearts and minds of the public and highlighting the cramped conditions on board a slave transportation ship.


So why are today’s sharply precise medical images not having the same impact? One answer is de-sensitisation. We are bombarded with increasingly graphic images on a daily basis, perhaps we are becoming inured? If that were really the case, then the graphic images would not cause so much fury, although I do believe that due to advances in ultrasound technology, there is an increasing widespread awareness and acceptance of the humanity of the unborn. For all the talk about science, abortion remains an issue of ethics or rights for its defenders. Abortion is centred solely around a woman’s rights to choose, any thing else is obsfucation. Images of early-stage humanity cut no ice with those who are determined that the unborn must not get in the way of a woman’s chosen path. Which is why we see so much pent-up anger, rage and aggression, because so many of them know that their position is ethically, not to mention scientifically, dubious.

But I can’t help but wonder, given how entrenched abortion is, whether it’s time for a new tactic or slogan especially for those involved in ministry outside the abortion clinics? The medical and sometimes gruesome images should not always be avoided, (especially when lobbying politicians) but instead used with discretion. What are we in pro-life all about trying to achieve? A pro-life society that welcomes, accepts and embraces motherhood as being positive and a gift, for mother and child and society as a whole. I wonder whether or not it’s time for more carrot and less stick? Something that sends the right message, but is also overwhelmingly upbeat, bright and cheerful, showing precisely what is a stake, as well as presenting a positive and aspirational vision.

It certainly seems to have worked well in Ireland. Accusations of fetishisation can be levelled at any photo. But in this case we are envisaging the future, the potential, the joy instead of worshiping and making a blazon of a very specific bodily stage in all of our human journey.

Love them Both

Part 2 to follow

Too close for comfort


I have a confession to make. In tweeting up a storm about the media blackout surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who reportedly snipped the spines and cut the throats of babies born alive following late term abortions, I was actually being very hypocritical. I knew about this story some time ago, having seen it mentioned by US pro-lifers as well as reading about it last month in the Daily Mail and yet refrained from writing about it and raising awareness.

I’ll forgo the false modesty, I know that this blog is, on the whole, highly regarded in pro-life terms, I also know it is referred to by pro-choice advocates and activists and read by BPAS, Marie Stopes and, according to my stats, IP addresses that emanate from inside the Houses of Parliament. Over the last year, it’s become increasingly apparent that I do have a platform, which I need to remember to use wisely.

So why did I neglect to do my bit here?

1) I was scared. Last year when all the bullying nonsense was occurring, a certain tweeter was repeatedly (and falsely) claiming that I was a member of Abort 67, “an extremist, a bad egg, a fake pro-lifer who doesn’t care, who must be flushed out of the pro life movement”.

I’m not a member of Abort 67, but I’m not ashamed to state that I have enormous respect and admiration for their courage and what they are trying to achieve. Andy Stephenson doesn’t just sit about writing polemic on the Internet or chew the philosophical fat in smokey pubs, but he dedicates his entire life to trying to show people the horrors of abortion, at times risking his own personal safety and even his liberty, when he was subject to an illiberal and misguided prosecution.

Whilst I might have some reservations about the tactics of showing images outside an abortion clinic, actually I have no problem with the way Abort 67 try to reach University students on campus or lobby politically, such as outside the Houses of Parliament or at Speaker’s Corner. But I was worried that by talking about the grisly horrors of Gosnell, and the pickled human feet found in storage jars or dead babies in the freezer, I might be perceived as a sensationalist or extremist. The only coverage I’d seen was in the Daily Mail, a publication that garners much deserved disdain at times, I hadn’t read the Grand Jury report and was concerned that I would be accused of scare-mongering or spreading inaccuracies. A major tactic of pro-choicers (as I will demonstrate in a subsequent post) is to attempt to bamboozle with science and stats, nit-picking to the umpteenth degree and attempting to use semantics, in order that they can scream “liar”. I didn’t want to put my reputation on the line, or be seen to be posting graphic photos or perceived to be revelling in gore.

2) The other reason and perhaps most importantly, was that I didn’t want to think about what had gone on in Gosnell’s abattoir or engage with it. I’d read the reports and recoiled with horror. It was literally unbearable and had the capacity to drive me mad. No doubt the pop psychologists and misogynists will liberally apply the ‘hysterical’ label, but stories regarding the twisted and bloodied corpses of murdered babies, are too close to home for a woman who has had three babies in the space of as many years.

I saw the photograph of one of Gosnell’s victims which appeared without a prior warning, in yesterday’s Atlantic and had a meltdown. The photo depicted a beautiful baby girl, with a full head of black hair, all her features perfectly formed, bizarrely, her umbilical cord had been cut and clamped, and she bore a startling and uncanny resemblance to my youngest baby daughter, and in fact all of my children who were born with lustrous heads of hair and tiny delicate little features. Except she was lying there, lifeless, motionless, dead and cold, having been mercilessly killed by Grosnell, shortly after her cord was cut and clamped and she was breathing. She would never again twitch, her hands wouldn’t uncurl, her limbs wouldn’t fling out in the startle reflex, her mouth would never root around for the comfort of a nipple or teat, she would never have known the comfort of her mother’s, or any human arms, her life consisted of being prematurely forced out of her mother’s womb, then disorientated and distressed from birth, longing for warmth and food, she was brutally murdered and left like a piece of rubbish on the cold hard slab of the abortionist’s table.

It was like looking a photograph of my own babies, particularly my youngest who was born early, weighing 5lbs, less than one of the little boys who was killed, and whom Gosnell jokingly referred to as being big enough to walk to the bus stop. Like this baby, my own baby was tiny, with fragile spindly limbs and swamped by the smallest size nappy. Even the colour of the clip on the umbilicus was the same.

I broke down. There were no words. I usually grab snatches of Twitter or the net on my phone or tablet, often whilst cooking, and the initial response was like being hit in the stomach. I curled up in the foetal position on the floor by the fridge in floods of tears, completely unable to process either the image or my response to what had happened. There was a mixture of overwhelming grief, sadness, anger and despair. I wanted to kick the living daylights out of this man and anyone who may have aided or abetted him in any way. That feeling still hasn’t dissipated, nor have the questions – namely, how on earth could the people working in the clinic have brought themselves to do this, what made them so damaged as individuals that they were able to justify and disassociate themselves from their actions? How could they have become so desensitised to what was going on? What kind of society are we living in when we can allow this to happen and where most people are happy that the media do not report it?

Yesterday was a concrete manifestation of why I had deliberately avoided engaging with this and so writing about it. Because I didn’t have the courage, it was too close to home and I didn’t think I had the emotional resources to cope. I had a very disturbed night’s sleep last night and I still am struggling to rid my mind of those dreadful images as well as deal with the emotions they invoke, which make me want to do terrible things, tear my hair and clutch my head in horror. Whenever I read about dreadful cases of child abuse or murder which crop up depressingly frequently in our national press, it churns me up inside. I cannot envisage what might motivate a person to do such odious things to a little child, and it terrifies me that people can often lose control in such a way that they inflict and violate little children with acts of sickening violence and depravity. Any parent who denies having the odd flash of anger, is either a genuine saint, or lying to themselves, all of us occasionally, at the end of our tether, might speak a little more harshly to our children than we should, but what is that forces a person to cross that line and inflict acts of utter sadism? And the worst most harrowing thing, is imagining the terror and pain experienced by these little ones. Imagining their trusting little faces and lack of comprehension and fear as they are repeatedly battered or worse.

I can’t stop myself imagining the brief painful lives of these little babies, treated as human waste, what they must have gone through, and also the agonies endured by the women, many of whom suffered life changing injuries, permanent infertility, infections and two of whom died. No matter how opposed one is to abortion, we shouldn’t forget the ordeals suffered by the women, most of whom were vulnerable, either by virtue of age, or socio-economic circumstance. No woman would chose to give birth to a live baby to have him or her murdered in front of her eyes. Most women have no idea of what is entailed in a late-stage abortion until it is too late, and I would wager most women going for an abortion have no idea of what to expect, everything is couched in such vague clinical terminology involving ‘products of conception’.

I eschewed writing about Gosnell, because I didn’t want to have to process this emotionally, or deal with the horror, the images or the reaction that they would invoke. Much easier to stick one’s fingers in one’s ears and pretend that it doesn’t happen, or that this is simply an one-off aberration and not think about tiny bodies beheaded and contorted in pain, or women giving birth amongst animal faeces, with filthy tubing used for both inter uterine suction and breathing purposes and freezers and storage jars full of neonates or neonatal body parts.

I suspect that’s one of the reasons for the media blackout. Some things are just too repugnant to bear. We often read about sadistic crimes, such as those of cannibal killers, for example, or serial murders, with a sense of detachment, we can look at these monsters clinically and though be disturbed by their crimes, have a sense that these sorts of crimes are relatively rare and won’t happen to us. With Kermit Gosnell it’s different, in that he and his staff genuinely didn’t seem to have any awareness that what they were doing was in any way immoral and neither did anyone seem to wish to report it. These atrocities occurred at a state licensed abortion facility, which went un-inspected for 17 years due to the pro-choice policy of the Republican Governor of Philedelphia, Tom Ridge. This wasn’t something that just happened to people who had an unfortunate encounter or mixed with the wrong sort. This was something that happened to women who exercised their free and legal choice in one of the most developed and civilised countries in the world. This is what abortion entails. The wilful destruction of innocent human life, depriving babies of their basic right to life in an act of brutal violence, whether inside or outside of the womb. Every single member of humanity, every single person reading this post, has something in common with Gosnell’s victims, we all began the same way, we were all blastocysts, developing embryos and unborn babies too. We all went through those same stages of life, only we escaped the abortionist’s instruments because we were the lucky ones.

And like the media, and like those who knew but didn’t think to report, I sat on this story too, for my own selfish reasons, born out of fear. It once again proves Burke’s adage – all that requires for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.