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Wednesday 09 November 2016

Right to Life versus Inside Out

Posted in: Our Communities
By Craig Young - 31st October 2016

Right to Life New Zealand is currently launching an Official Information Act attack against RainbowYOUTH's Inside Out programme. Who are these people and what are they trying to do?

The Inside Out launch event in Auckland. Picture: RainbowYOUTH
Right to Life New Zealand is an extremist conservative Catholic group. In the nineties, its chair, Ken Orr, was involved in the militant US-derived radical anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue. He was involved in a trespass case at Lyndhurst, the free-standing Christchurch abortion clinic, but despite arguing he was trespassing to 'save' embryos and fetuses, there is no embryonic/fetal 'personhood' clause within the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, which regulates abortion access in New Zealand. His defence therefore failed- one can read the case record in R v Wilcox and Others. Back in 1999, SPUC/Voice for Life kicked Right to Life (formerly Christchurch SPUC) out of the official anti-abortion movement because Right to Life New Zealand was promoting the Status of the Unborn Child Bill, a radical anti-abortion bill that would have banned abortion in New Zealand, which failed to pass its first reading in 1983. Since then, Right to Life has adopted a more radical profile, taking the Abortion Supervisory Committee to court over 'failure' to regulate abortion 'properly' and failing to prove that was the case. More recently, it has also opposed David Seymour's End of Life Choices Bill, been occupied with the Health select committee hearings and... is agitating against Inside Out.

Why is this? Right to Life New Zealand is noted for its co-belligerency with other New Zealand Christian Right groups. Given the current prominence of the anti-euthanasia cause within the New Zealand Christian Right, it faces questioning from those within their own conservative Catholic and allied circles who think that anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia groups should be concentrating attention on opposing the End of Life Choices Bill, not undertaking 'diversionary' swipes at the LGBT community. Family First has toned down its once-strident anti-transgender rhetoric as it has failed to make any inroads against transgender health and safety within New Zealand schools, so Right to Life may have decided to take up the cudgels against Inside Out based on the successful Australian Christian Right campaign against the Safe Schools Coalition.

Right to Life has made an Official Information Act request to the Minister of Health, Jonathon Coleman, asking for details such as the total funding provided for RainbowYOUTH and the Family Planning Association for the Inside Out programme, as well as the number of schools that have rejected the "Inside Out' programme, alleged 'failure' to address other causes of school bullying, consultation with Parent Teachers Associations and submissions from parents and teachers groups requesting this programme. Previously, Right to Life had made the request to Hekia Parata, the outgoing Key administration Minister of Education, but had been reportedly met with a response about the absence of such information from Ministry of Education officials. It then refers to the 'agenda' of the 'international homosexual movement' in the context of education policy and promoting an 'insane' programme of 'gender confusion' among children. It also claims to 'represent' 'numerous' New Zealand parents. It also states its 'natural law' sectarian objection to gender dysphoria.

Never mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, US National Association of Social Workers, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association all back the diagnosis of gender dysphoria in children. Given that Mr Orr has no qualifications in endocrinology, pediatrics and developmental psychology, what entitles him to make such absurd comments as his closing paragraph? Moreover, this is surely idle time-wasting. The proper destination for this Official Information Act request is the Ministry of Education. Moreover, some of its questions can be equally raised when it comes to Family First's attack on transgender children's health and safety. How many schools have rejected its anti-transgender propaganda? Do other identity-based constituencies get asked why their resources are not similarly inclusive? How many schools have requested anti-transgender propaganda 'resources' from Family First, apart from conservative Christian educational institutions?

And as for the remark that Inside Out represents the 'international homosexual movement', what about its own constant reproduction of propaganda from US and other anti-abortion and anti-LGBT pressure groups? Or the obvious emulation of the Australian Christian Right attack on the Safe Schools Coalition carried out by their own organisation? And the fact that its 'natural law' perspective is clearly sectarian, pre-modern, pre-scientific and derived from Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, not the findings of mainstream evidence-based medical and scientific research? If anyone is peddling an imported agenda here, it is Right to Life.

Craig Young - 31st October 2016

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