“Jesus, help me!” A dad’s adoption testimony

I was introduced to a man (I’ll call him “Gary”) who was passing through Hong Kong. After some small talk, he mentioned that his daughter had been adopted from Hong Kong over 20 years ago. So I asked him to share the story.

He flew in from America to complete all the paperwork for the adoption. His wife wasn’t able to be there to pick up their daughter. Unfortunately, Gary had to finish the process by himself. No small task! But finally, everything was finished, and he was ready to bring his daughter home.

But his daughter wasn’t ready. Every time he tried to hold her, she cried uncontrollably. After a few days of this, it got to the point where every time she saw him, she started crying uncontrollably.

Time was running out before his return flight to America. He didn’t know what to do. He kept trying, kept praying, and kept doing everything he knew to make her trust him.

Gary was getting desperate. Finally, while he was holding her and she was screaming at him, he cried out: “Jesus, help me!”

His daughter stopped crying. They bonded. And Gary took his daughter home to America, to meet her new mother and family.

After Gary finished the story, he mentioned that his daughter had grown up with a disability–she was missing an arm. And during the adoption process, he was told that she was mentally disabled. But she wasn’t.

“She just finished nursing school last month. She was the valedictorian.”


Pro-Life Theme in “Life on the Line” (Hong Kong TVB Best Drama of 2018)

Pro-Life Theme in “Life on the Line” (Hong Kong TVB Best Drama of 2018)

This is the first TV series that I watched in Cantonese, so it holds a special place for me just because of that. But I was pleasantly shocked by some of the pro-life themes of the show.

“Life on the Line” (跳躍生命線) is a fairly lighthearted drama about the real lives and work of paramedics in Hong Kong. The plot was great, the dialogue was good, and the acting was completely “Hong Kong style”. But despite the serious situations in each episode, there isn’t as much screaming and yelling and overly dramatic acting as a lot of TV shows have!

There was a lot of heroism, and a lot of struggles to figure out messy family/relationship issues, and a lot of life-and-death ethical questions. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but this was a surprisingly good show!

The most surprising thing, though, was the show’s treatment of abortion. In the middle of the series, one of the major plot points involves a doctor who persuades one of his girlfriends to get an abortion. (Spoiler alert: There’s actually a happy ending!)

While the girlfriend is waiting in the hospital room to get an abortion, the audience is made keenly aware of the humanity of the unborn child, because of the words that the pregnant woman uses to talk about the child she’s planning to abort.

Later, the boyfriend/doctor is called a “murderer”. This is what happened: The doctor’s fiancée finds out that he has another girlfriend, and that she’s pregnant, and that she’s getting an abortion. If the fiancée can accept the other woman’s abortion, then she’s free to move ahead with her wedding plans with the man she’s been waiting to marry for 10 years.

But finally, she tells him that in her career as a medic, all she wants to do is to save people’s lives. And even though she loved him, she “could never sleep with a murderer”.

While they’re checking out beds at a mattress store before their wedding, she realizes that she cannot sleep with a doctor who would destroy a life.

Honestly, I was kind of shocked. From my perspective as a pro-life advocate, I’m very careful about the words I use. If you’re talking with someone about abortion, using words like “murder” can be a conversation-stopper, and maybe a relationship-ender. I think it’s generally a very bad idea, and usually counter-productive, to call people who do abortion “murderers”. And the pro-life leaders I know really try to use language that will persuade, and not merely win the argument.

But in the context of the TV drama, the abortion issue doesn’t feel like a philosophical debate. And it certainly has nothing to do with religion or politics. It just felt plainly true: even though this doctor saved lives, he was morally a criminal. He was unfaithful to his fiancée, and he wanted to have his other girlfriend’s child killed.

Fortunately, the doctor does finally have a change of heart about the abortion, gets married to the mother, and lives “happily ever after” (and presumably stops keeping extra girlfriends).

It’s just a TV show, but it meant a lot to me personally. I plan to be here in Hong Kong (or not too far away) for decades. I don’t care a lot about watching TV, but I need to be able to understand Cantonese-language media. Watching “Life on the Line” was a new experience, and I’m grateful to have gotten to this point in my Cantonese study.

I also was impressed that the characters dealt with life-and-death situations with careful moral judgment (e.g. discussing when it’s okay to risk your life to save someone else, and when it’s foolish).

They also featured a character in the medic training school who had Down Syndrome. He wasn’t a major character, but he was there, and he was part of the team. That was cool.

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I was also very happily surprised to see that “Life on the Line” won the award for the best TV drama series of 2018! The TVB Awards Show is broadcast during Chinese New Year, which means that a lot of Cantonese-speaking families saw it during lunch on the second day of Chinese New Year (i.e. one of several big meals for extended family during the week of CNY). I don’t think I’ve ever been interested in watching a TV awards show before. But I made an exception, because my wife’s family was watching it (we had 30 people gathered for lunch in a tiny apartment–with a big TV screen–because this is Hong Kong).

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So, cheers for “Life on the Line”. It was a really good series, and I hope more TV producers will promote the value of life in Hong Kong!

Ray of Hope in Taiwan :: Pre-Chinese New Year 2019 Prayer Update

Ray of Hope in Taiwan :: Pre-Chinese New Year 2019 Prayer Update


Tuesday afternoon, I visited the Family Value Foundation, a Hong Kong NGO with an extensive network, that also produces a ton of valuable content for schools, social work organisations, and churches.

Their work is truly having an impact. Hong Kong is a fast-paced economic hub, and isn’t always a healthy environment for family life or marriage!

Originally, I had planned to meet up with the director, Anton Wan, for an informal lunch. But in the end, there were also two local pro-life leaders who joined (Little Life and Joy of Life), so that we could all discuss various projects we’re cooperating on. I feel privileged to be working with these long-time leaders!

There are so many great plans in the works for this year, but I’ll just mention three of them briefly for now:

1) a series of high-quality short films specifically about abortion
2) a collaborative book project with Hong Kong fathers about pregnancy loss
3) further opportunities to talk to youth on pro-life issues

I almost forgot to mention, but, there is a great need to get the pro-life message to youth. When the topic comes up, people intuitively know that this is extremely important. But it’s not easy, for a variety of reasons. Let’s pray for open doors!

A personal note on Cantonese study
Before I went to that meeting, I assumed that the lunch discussion would probably be in English, just for my sake.

Here’s the thing: During any in-depth or fast-paced discussions, you have to use whichever common language is most practical. Since most of the people I know in Hong Kong are trilingual (Cantonese, English, and Mandarin), there’s seldom the need–or the time–to use Cantonese. (Remember, Hong Kong is fast-paced!)

But Hong Kong people actually use Cantonese most of the time, and not being fluent is just a hassle!

Anyway, after all the time I’ve put into studying, I really thought I would be at a more advanced conversational level by now. So, I’m disappointed that I haven’t “arrived” to a solid level of fluency.

But while I was on the train to the meeting, I happened to sit with a family from Shenzhen, who was in Hong Kong for a shopping trip. They told their son several times to take advantage of this opportunity to “chat with the foreigner in English”.

Kids never know what to say when they’re put on the spot like that–especially with a stranger! But in order to “give face” to the boy (and the parents), I asked him some easy questions, and told him his English was great.

And then I was able to chat with the family in Cantonese for nearly 30 minutes. It wasn’t easy, but I was so happy that we could have a real conversation!

It’s surprisingly hard to find simple chatting opportunities like this. And when people hear my Mandarin-accented Cantonese, they automatically switch to Mandarin…or English!

So, talking with that family on the train was a big confidence boost!

And then, during the “pro-life business lunch” that afternoon, our discussion was actually in Cantonese. (While I was able to follow along with their discussion in Cantonese, I have to admit that I “cheated” by mostly speaking English).

This is now my 7th year in Hong Kong. But I know that I might be staying here for several more decades. That’s why I’m so motivated not to give up on reaching a high level of fluency in Cantonese.

We had a presentation about Taiwanese culture and the prevalence of abortion, as well as how Ray of Hope and other pro-life organisations are responding.
Pro-Life Prayer Meeting (first Tuesday of each month)

Tuesday night at Ebenezer House Of Prayer, we had our first monthly pro-life prayer meeting of 2019. (For the rest of 2019, it will take place the first Tuesday night of each month, but not in February because of Chinese New Year.)

I recently met Jessica, who just finished an internship with Ray of Hope, a comprehensive pro-life ministry in Tainan, Taiwan. During our meeting, Jessica talked about how Ray of Hope has helped over 300 women in crisis pregnancies to give birth. They also provide housing, employment, and many other forms of care. Additionally, Ray of Hope runs a program to teach sexuality education in local high schools. (I got to meet them during the Japan March for Life. They are such a fun group!)

Taiwan has a reputation for having a very high abortion rate. So we prayed for doctors and abortion clinic staff, and for parents (especially for men), and for unborn children, so that they will be able to glorify God with their lives.

I shared the story of John Newton, who wrote the song “Amazing Grace”. He was a slave trafficker who became an Anglican minister and an abolitionist. His efforts helped end slavery in the British empire.

I also shared the story of Abby Johnson, who was a rising leader in PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America). She had a conversion while doing an abortion in 2010, and has helped more than 400 abortion workers to quit their jobs and become pro-life.

I don’t always feel hopeful about the future of pro-life efforts. And I know that in Taiwan, the pro-life ministries can feel overwhelmed by the vast scale of the problems. So my prayer is that God will raise up people in Taiwan to have the same culture-changing impact as John Newton or Abby Johnson. God can do anything!

John Newton was a mentor to William Wilberforce, who ended the slave trade in the British Empire.
January Prayer Points

1. For all the pro-life efforts in Hong Kong to bear much fruit this year.

2. For Taiwan’s pro-life ministries, and especially for a conversion of the hearts of many abortion providers, and that they will become heroes for life!

3. I posted on Facebook several weeks ago about a family in Mainland China. The wife (whom I’m calling “Mei” because she is our sister), was pregnant with a girl with cleft lip and palate. The husband and in-laws did their best to persuade “Mei” to abort, but she bravely chose life with the help of a pro-life Christian network.
When I shared about the situation on Facebook, many people prayed, but many also wanted to do something practical to help. A few people even privately messaged me because they wanted to offer to adopt the baby! And this outpouring of loving concern made a big difference for Mei’s decision.
But in the end, none of the practical help was actually necessary, because the family has the means to provide for the child’s needs. So, the only practical option in this situation is to pray. So let’s keep praying for the heart of the father and grandparents to be turned towards this child.

I’m calling her baby “Wei” (薇), because I’m praying that God will make a “way” when the culture says there is no way.
Thank you for joining in prayer. Talk to you soon!

Joe Woodard
Asia for Life



Persecuted congregation carries hope for the next generation

Persecuted congregation carries hope for the next generation

Joe Woodard, Asia for Life
December 21, 2018

The persecuted churches in China deserve attention right now. I specifically want to share about Early Rain Covenant Church, not only because of its stand of conscience, but also because it is a “pro-life church”. Practically, being “pro-life” in China means that they don’t submit to the Family Planning Policy, and that they help people that have “too many” children. But beyond these basic pro-life commitments, they are conscientiously building a “culture of life”.

I visited the church briefly in 2015 while passing through Chengdu. I very briefly met their well-known pastor, Wang Yi, and also a few other people at the church. Everything about the church impressed me. But I was most impressed by a woman with four children. Having four children is practically impossible in China because of the Family Planning Policy. But because of God’s love, the impossible becomes possible.

Read the full story below.

The church’s former meeting place in an office building in Chengdu.

A majority of China’s 100,000,000 Christians are guilty of attending unregistered church meetings. For many years, the laws about unregistered religious gatherings have not changed. The only difference has been in how strictly the government enforces them.

Every year, leading up to Christmas and Easter, you might hear about police raids at Chinese churches. These big crackdowns discourage churches from holding large gatherings, and discourage a lot of people from going to church altogether.

The government’s efforts to suppress religious belief are continuous, but the recent raids are international news stories because the pastors are well known.

Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong have not been heard from since their arrest. Click the video link for a beautiful video montage of all the church members who are currently in detention.

Before he became a Christian, Wang Yi was a respected lawyer and human rights activist. Since his conversion, he has little interest in changing unjust laws. His main concern is fidelity to the Bible’s teaching.

His church has always operated very publicly. Even though he refuses to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, Wang Yi welcomes the police to monitor all the church’s activities. They have nothing to hide.

In 2015, I met Wang Yi for about 15 seconds. I knew that he was busy, and that my Mandarin was lousy. So I kept it simple, and just said something like: “Hello, your church is beautiful, I’m praying for you all, God bless you.” I don’t think he said anything besides “Hello” and “Thanks for coming”. That’s what pastors say to everyone.

At that time, I had no idea that he was so well-known in China, and also controversial among Christian leaders, especially because of his attempts to hold a public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Although he is involved in so many different activities, these June 4 activities are what got him into the most trouble.

I didn’t know about any of that. But still, when I was introduced to him, I was concerned. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I was hesitant to meet him. It seemed like a security risk somehow, since he was illegally running a large Christian church, seminary, and grade school.

But I immediately felt convicted about my fear.

Photo from Early Rain Covenant Church’s Facebook Page. (Yes, Facebook is blocked in China, but many people know how to access blocked sites.)

In my heart, I felt I should make a decision about my attitude. And I decided that, whatever our differences, this man is my brother in Christ. He is doing his best to be a faithful Christian, and to follow his conscience. Why should I feel nervous about meeting him? Why should I hesitate to join in fellowship with this church, if they’re not hesitating to welcome me? I knew that something in my heart needed to change.

But, I also had the thought…his church would probably be shut down someday, right?

Yes, probably. But EVERY church in China has been shut down by the government at some point.

This church building in Wenzhou was demolished on May 5, 2016, and is one of hundreds of unregistered churches that was closed in the city a few years ago.

My brief visit to Early Rain Covenant Church was unplanned. It happened at the last minute, while I was visiting Chengdu. I’m not connected to this church, and since that brief visit, I haven’t communicated with anyone who is in this church.

But I’ll tell you what I experienced that night.

When I arrived at the church meeting place, I was surprised that it was in such a big, open, clearly marked place, inside an office building. The space was huge. How could this be an “underground” church?

I was also surprised that it wasn’t a prayer meeting. Rather, it was a big church gathering, to discuss the integration of ancient Chinese and Western texts into a Christian liberal arts education.

All I could think was, “Are you serious? This is amazing. They have a vision not only to survive, but to thrive, and to build something beautiful for the next generation.”

I met one of the speakers. He was Chinese, probably 30 years old, and he taught Latin and Greek at their “underground” Christian school. I was impressed.

Honestly, I was impressed by everyone I met that night. They were mostly smart young professionals. And they engaged in open discussion of valuable ideas, without any fear.

But they knew this was all illegal. So, why would they go through so much trouble to start their own schools? I actually never asked, but I assume it’s because Chinese public schools teach atheism. Also, it’s important to remember that no Chinese student or teacher is permitted to join in any religious meeting.

The families at Early Rain Covenant Church were building an educational oasis for their children. But last week, the pastor and elders were arrested. And the authorities are threatening to take some of their children away if they don’t put them in public schools.

Click the photo to see ongoing prayer updates in English.

Again, I only attended part of one meeting at this church, and I briefly met several people afterwards. And I doubt anyone at that church remembers me.

But I need to mention the person at that church who impressed me the most. I met a woman who was pregnant with her fourth child.

I’ve been all over China, but I’ve never met a young Chinese family with four children (except for one, at the church I attend in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and has separate laws.)

When I met that woman, I felt like I was witnessing a miracle. And she was so happy! But I knew that the only way she could give birth to four children was with the support of a completely counter-cultural church community. She needed a community willing to provide social, emotional, and legal support, and to help pay fines, etc, if necessary.

Jesus said that the world will know we are Christians by the love we have for one another. And that was the biggest takeaway from my brief visit. Only love could have enabled the fearlessness of this Christian community. There are many Christian communities who are willing to disobey China’s religious policy, and who still worship God according to their conscience. Tragically, there are not enough churches that are willing to publicly disobey the Family Planning Policy, which is the greatest human rights violation of the past 40 years.

Posted by Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church on Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The woman in the photo above might have been the woman I met after that meeting in 2015, but I’m not sure. As crazy as it sounds, there might actually be another large young family!

Since it’s almost Christmas (and today is the Winter Solstice), I’ll close on a slightly different note. This week I got news about a Muslim woman in China who recently gave birth to quadruplets. Every hospital she went to tried to make her abort. But she met some Christians. She and her four children are safe.

When there is so much darkness and death, only God’s love can light the way. But we can have hope, because of Emmanuel–because God has come to us. It’s fitting that “Emmanuel” (以马内利) is a common greeting among Chinese Christians. No matter what happens, God is with us.

Church buildings will be shut down and Christians will be arrested tomorrow, because it’s Sunday. And then again on Christmas Eve. And then even more on Christmas Day.

But even if every church is shut down, the world will still know who the Christians are because of the love we have for one another. And God’s love makes all things new.



Genetically-edited babies: When man plays God, what does God say?

Genetically-edited babies: When man plays God, what does God say?

Jonny Fan, Director of  the Chinese Pro-Life Ministry “Don’t Abort on Children’s Day”
Original article: 基因編輯嬰兒:當人類試圖扮演上帝,上帝是怎麼說的?

In the past few days, the news of genetically-edited babies produced by a Chinese scientist has gone viral. It has received almost universal denunciation, essentially on the grounds that it is the application of a technology with unpredictable risks, without rigorous assessment, used irresponsibly on human beings, which may lead to devastating results.

Obviously the condemnation is justified. But the criticism will sooner or later disappear, as the technology involved is further enhanced and becomes more mature. The content of people’s criticism shows that they are not against genetically editing babies, but against the fact that it is not carefully regulated.

For Christians, it is inadequate to think only along these lines. In secular ethics, the goal is to seek the “public consensus”, based on the interest of the majority. In Christian ethics, however, we seek a sanctified life. As was stated in Leviticus 19, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”

The following three verses are what God has to say about human life.

First Verse: The Nature of Man

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

To consider the nature of the life of man, we have to go back to where humans began.

In Genesis 1, God created the universe in 6 days. At the end of each day, God affirmed His creation, saying, “God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25) But on the sixth day, God said “it was very good,” because he had created man on that day.

In God’s eyes, why was the creation of man “very good”, better than what were created in the previous five days? (In the eyes of man, the things created in the first five days often seem better than what was created on the sixth day!)

God’s creation on the sixth day is special, because human are created in the image of God.

Although the Bible is not very explicit about what the “image of God” is, there are at least two levels of meanings:

1)Humans have a special relationship with God.

In all of creation, only man is made in the image of God, and a special relation exists between man and God, which is not found in other creatures.

2)Humans reflect some of God’s attributes.

Since humans are made in God’s image, there are naturally some similarities. A person’s essence can reflect certain attributes of God. As the Lord said in Leviticus 19: “Be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” In the Gospel, Jesus also said: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat 5:48)

Humans are not God, and will never be God, but we reflect God’s attributes. Besides showing us the essence of our life, it should direct us in making ethical judgments. Are these scientific experiments (intended to make humanity “perfect”) compatible with the Biblical teaching to “be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect”?

Second Verse: What is the Origin of Man’s Value?

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6)

After the Flood, God commanded Noah not to kill. God’s reasoning was not based on public interest considerations, but on man’s nature. This verse explicitly states that the biggest problem with killing humans is that they have the image of God. In other words, whoever kills is the enemy of the Lord. God sees humans as valuable not because of what they have—external possessions—but because of what they are.

Behind the experiment to genetically edit human embryos, there is a set of criteria that judges human value by what a person has. Screening human genes means screening humans. And very often, “screening” simply means killing—eradicating those who “have no value” according to genetic-screening criteria.

When screening is aimed at those who are already born, it means an extermination (under “racial hygiene laws”) as in Hitler’s genocide. When screening is aimed at those who are in the womb, it means fetal sex identification, and the “Family Planning Policy”. And when screening happens before that–with embryos in IVF labs–it is called “genome editing”.

The concentration camp at Landsberg am Lech1944

Third Verse: How to Treat the Smallest Human Beings

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Mat 25:40)

Among today’s assisted reproductive technologies, a “test-tube baby” is the closest thing to a genetically-edited baby. The only difference is what is being screened—genes or babies. “Test-tube baby” (IVF) technology is now quite mature. Let’s talk about the typical IVF process.

Mature eggs and sperms are collected from a couple, and then used for multiple fertilisations in a laboratory. Then, one or more of the fertilized eggs (embryos) are implanted in the woman’s uterus, followed by a period of observation. After the embryos grow, and the parents decide how many they want, the unwanted embryos are destroyed.

In a typical IVF case, there might be 5 embryos that have been fertilized. If the parents want 1 child, then 2 embryos will be implanted. At least 1 of the embryos will be miscarried, or aborted. Then, there will be 3 leftover embryos, which will be frozen in the hospital. And so, there are now many forgotten or abandoned embryos in hospitals.

There are no longer many people who denounce this “safely regulated” technology. But as Christians, who know the Lord of life, there are some things to consider. Some Christians who want their own biological children will choose to employ “test-tube baby” technology to realize their wish. They will only implant one fertilized egg, and will not opt for genetic screening (i.e. ” abortion of fetus with genetic abnormalities”). If their attempt at IVF fails, they will try again.

There are some Christians who put their frozen eggs in the hospital when they were still non-believers. After coming to understand the Bible’s teaching on human life, they do not want to abandon these yet-to-be-born humans. They choose to continue to grow the remaining fertilized eggs.

There are also Christians who do not continue the IVF process, but want to honor the humanity of their embryos. Some people will even have a burial ceremony.

Some other Christians, learning the example set by God, choose to adopt orphans and raise them as their own children. They bring the orphans into their homes, based on a set of values entirely different from people who simply abandon their embryos in the IVF clinic.

Postscript: Pandora’s Box?

After last week’s news story, many people talk about a “Pandora’s Box” that could be opened. But in fact, we shouldn’t be surprised, because there are already so many Pandora’s Boxes that have been opened—and many have never been closed.

In our generation, the greatest cause of death is abortion.

In the past, people abandoned their children after they were born. Today, technology allows the abandonment to be performed during pregnancy. Every year, 50 million healthy fetuses—with no need to be genetically modified, and who are carrying no risks—are directly killed. They are torn into pieces on operating tables, before being incinerated and dumped in landfills as garbage (or tossed in the trash or sewer).

Comparatively speaking, is it really that evil that those Chinese twin girls were genetically edited? If killing a fetus is such a trivial matter, how serious can it be to alter an embryo’s genes?

Conversely, if it is really unethical to experiment on an embryo in a laboratory, how should we assess killing a baby on a hospital operating table?

Given that Christians in China generally keep their mouths shut about abortion, our criticism against genome editing is like a street-sleeper who is given a hotel room, and suddenly starts complaining that it isn’t clean.

If we cannot see the sins that are already happening all around us through the lens of man’s true nature—which is the only way we can build a line of defence for human life—then I’m afraid that people are only shocked about genetically edited babies because it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. If Christians remain silent about abortion now, the next generation of Christians will readily accept genetic editing.

Do you truly value life? Do you really see that man is “made in the image of God”? Confronted by well over 10 million cases of abortion each year, do you want to do something? You’re welcome to join us on WeChat by using the QR Code below.

Recommended Articles:

Ideological Imperialism, Marie Stopes, Africa (and China)

Ideological Imperialism, Marie Stopes, Africa (and China)

The UK government has increased its spending by 200 million pounds to reduce Africa’s population growth. Philippa Taylor, Head of Public Policy at the UK-based Christian Medical Fellowship, explains why this isn’t really what Africa wants. Taylor’s article shares insights from pro-life leaders in Africa.
“Obianuju Ekeocha of Culture of Life Africa says that this is simply a new form of neo-colonialism and imperialism. It certainly reeks of ‘we know better than you’ as the UK imposes its own Western-centred ideological values on other nations. Evidence, it seems, is not allowed to stand in the way of ideology.”
Taylor discusses the UK’s imperialistic attitude towards Africa. But does this have anything to do with East Asia? Not necessarily. But, it does give a model of how Western governments have been treating other nations for decades.
As the article mentions, the UK government is donating about 200 million pounds to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI). The IPPF and MSI are based in the UK, but have many affiliates around the world, making them the largest abortion providers in the world. Even more surprising than their attitude towards Africa is their attitude towards China. The Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes affiliates in China closely assist the Chinese government in executing its Family Planning Policy.
China’s policy was put into effect in 1978, and has coerced countless millions of people to get abortions. The implementation of this policy has been the greatest human rights violation of the past 40 years.
But the policy has continued with the support of the international community. And two of the greatest supporters are Planned Parenthood (IPPF) and Marie Stopes (MSI).
IPPF Director-General Tewodros Melesse meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in 2013.
Since 1983, the IPPF has cooperated closely with China and helped to execute its Family Planning Policy, by whatever means necessary.
Marie Stopes (MSI) proudly discusses its cooperation with the Chinese government to implement family planning, including its sale of vacuum machines for abortions. And Marie Stopes China (MSIC) is now developing strategies to help other nations with their family planning policies. That will include Africa.
Universal Children’s Day

Universal Children’s Day

Every year since 1959, the United Nations has observed Universal Children’s Day on November 20, when they signed the “Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

But it was 94 years ago–on 26 September 1924–that the League of Nations approved its predecessor, the “Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child”.

The 1924 document was the first international treaty that specifically discussed the idea of children’s rights. The Geneva Declaration stated that:

  1. The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
  2. The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succoured.
  3. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
  4. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
  5. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.

These ideas are simple and obvious to us today. But it wasn’t always that way. It took the incredible work and sacrifice of children’s rights activists to arrive at the point where we can take it for granted that children have these basic rights.

A major inspiration for this document was Janusz Korczak, known as the “father of children’s rights”. He spent decades promoting children’s rights. Although he didn’t write it, he was the first to promote the idea, and was invited to sign the original document in light of his contribution.

Monument to Korczak in Warsaw

During World War II, he had many chances to avoid arrest by the Nazis, but he refused to abandon the children he was caring for. In 1942, his life ended in the Treblinka concentration camp, along with the lives of 200 children from his orphanage.

The document he inspired has been historically significant since the endorsement of the League of Nations General Assembly. After the League of Nations was succeeded by the United Nations, the Declaration was re-written to become the “Convention on the Rights of the Child“. And since 20 November 1989, this Convention has been signed and ratified by 193 nations. It is the most widely adopted human rights treaty in history.

And of course it is! Who doesn’t love children? Who doesn’t want children to succeed and thrive? And regardless, even if some people care less than others, anybody who isn’t willing to sign the document will look really bad.

So, every member of the United Nations signed the Convention. And in addition to signing it, every UN member eventually ratified it–except for the United State of America. The reasons given by America revolve around a fear of international control of its domestic policy.

But every nation has signed the document, and has said they will follow the rules of the Convention. There were also other nations who had concerns about international meddling in their domestic policy. Ultimately, though, they knew they would lose face if they didn’t sign.

It seems like a no-brainer for a nation to sign a treaty recognising children’s rights. But different nations have different values. For example, several nations who promote Sharia law objected to the Convention’s provision regarding a child’s freedom of religion, and said their domestic law came first. But they still signed the treaty. Several European nations objected to the signatures of nations governed by Sharia law. But they all still signed it. Israel and Canada objected to the fact that Palestine signed it, since it is not a UN member state. But Israel and Canada still signed it. And perhaps most disturbingly, China stated that they wouldn’t follow any provision of the Convention that would contradict China’s Family Planning Policy.

Presumably, China did not want the United Nations bothering them about:
1) the babies who are taken away from parents who have “too many” children,
2) withholding medical care from newborn babies who were supposed to be aborted, or
3) withholding health care and education from the millions of children without birth certificates.

Surprisingly, a few of the world’s most oppressive nations, including North Korea and Myanmar, did not express any reservations when they signed the Convention. Clearly though, children in these countries are not permitted to exercise many of their rights.

This means that the United Nations is actually okay with children lacking certain freedoms, as long as member nations are generally willing to recognize that they should care about children’s rights. This is bad, but it’s progress. Maybe.

All in all, the Convention inspires more than mere lip service–but not much more. And despite flagrant violations, the UN hasn’t rejected any of its signatories.

For example, the UN has said they are satisfied with China’s 2005 law to make sex-selective abortion illegal (which was killing literally millions of unborn girls every year, precisely because they were girls). But the UN is still “concerned” about how China’s Family Planning Policy encourages forced abortion and sex-selective abortion, and how local officials take illegally born children from their parents and place them in orphanages for adoption or forced labor. (See the UN report about China’s violations against children’s rights here, and China’s responses here.)

[The Convention] is particularly concerned about reports that some family planning officials coerce parents to give up their children born in excess of their parents’ birth quotas, and sell and transfer children into the care of local orphanages for domestic or international adoption or forced labor.

Obviously, not every nation cares about the rights of children in the same way. But this document does make a difference. What would the situation of the world’s children be without a treaty like this? This global declaration is important because it is a way to hold nations publicly accountable for their treatment of the weakest and most defenseless members of society. (Of course, they could be doing a better job on accountability.)

94 years ago today, Janusz Korczak’s inspiration for a declaration of children’s rights was put on paper and signed by the League of Nations. And he lived out this declaration in a concrete way, living and dying in solidarity with otherwise forgotten children. Even in very dark times and places, every child is worth remembering, defending, and celebrating.

The pregnancy is not the crisis

The pregnancy is not the crisis

A pro-life worker in England shares her heart-breaking experiences in the article “Working with women who want abortions has taught me a lot about life“.

One woman I encountered spent the majority of the consultation sobbing, begging me to tell her boyfriend that she was not eligible for an abortion. She desperately wanted to keep her baby, but he had decided that she wasn’t going to.

Despite being married to someone else, he was in control of her finances, her housing and her visa. She was completely dependent on him and he was physically and emotionally abusive. I told him that she was not eligible for an abortion so he grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the building.

The fact that BPAS performed an abortion on her later the same day is disgusting. In no way was her crisis solved by that abortion. Her child was forcibly removed against her will (even if she signed a consent form) because a man threatened the destruction of her life as she knew it.

Silent complicity with abusive boyfriends is not what feminism has fought for.

The last sentence of her article is also a succinct summary of her work: “Stop the crisis, not the pregnancy.”

Language Lessons in the Womb?

Language Lessons in the Womb?

I once had a job interview at a tutorial centre in North Point. I felt so ridiculously big inside the centre’s rooms, because they were designed for very small children.

Most students were 2 or 3, but there were also classes for young babies.

If I remember correctly, the centre had lessons available for students as young as 6 months.

That’s 6 months after conception.

I’ve tried to find out more about prenatal language classes, but there isn’t much information online. Understandably, the practice never became mainstream.

The New York Times article “Language Lessons Start in the Womb” explains how we know that language skills develop in the womb. But it also encourages parents not to worry about prenatal language lessons.

“The basic message to parents is don’t get too wrapped around the axle about preparing your extremely young infant for language,” Dr. Moon said. “Just do those things that are really natural and easy.”

People are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to help their children succeed in life. And this is especially true in the intensely competitive atmosphere of East Asia. Many parents pay for the best tutors, hire a nanny to make sure their children get to all their after-school lessons on time, and even go into debt to put their children into the best schools. Some parents do all these things before their child has even begun primary school! Parents pay huge sums of money to help their child survive the cut-throat competition that’s involved in getting into a highly-ranked kindergarten.

From the pro-life perspective, this brings up a question of justice. How can it be that so much time, effort, and money is spent on the well-being and success of young children, at the same time that so many unborn children’s lives are snuffed out before birth? Children’s lives are more important than the ranking of the kindergarten they will attend. But that’s not how society behaves. Why not? And how can we change this?

UK tells women with miscarriage to wait, first diagnosis is sometimes wrong

UK tells women with miscarriage to wait, first diagnosis is sometimes wrong

A large UK study in 2014 examined over 2500 patients who received a diagnosis of miscarriage. Based on this study, the UK’s medical system decided to tell women that they should wait at least 7 to 14 days before any medical procedure to evacuate the miscarried fetus. This is because approximately 3% of miscarriage diagnoses are wrong!

Researchers took great care with their data and with how they presented it. But practically, the result is very difficult for women with a diagnosis of miscarriage. It means that, after they are told they have miscarried, they need to wait 1 or 2 weeks, because of a tiny hope that their child is still alive. If they wait, there is roughly a 97% chance that the child is dead. If they don’t wait, they will risk aborting their child.

Miscarriage is terrible. The whole experience is terrible. And while this new research is important, it actually makes miscarriage even more difficult for the great majority of people.

The UK’s new policy will extend the grieving process for many people, which is horribly frustrating. But amidst the profound grief, the one positive thing to come out of this study is that it will save many lives who would have been accidentally aborted.

The results of the study are here: https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4579

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