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http://www.cmf.org.uk/whats_new/?id=5

I understand Nadine Dorries concern that the Cardinal's comments may polarise where she seeks to compromise

There needs to be a revision to the legislation. When a doctor gets a girl wanting an instant termination - is referred because he does not handle abortion - and then complains with the whole NHS complaints procedure wheeling through for months, it becomes ridiculous that she could not be sober enough to use contraception.

You see it on a Friday night in towns like Doncaster - very short skirts like belts but little chastity...and then a demand for an Obs & Gynae to abort a baby - though of course the NHS pays Stopes to remove 180 000 - 200 000 unwanted pregnancies and then we import 250 000 replacement people each year from overseas

There has to be a better way...there must be a better way. Even David Steel never imagined using abortion in place of contraception; and Britain is getting too reliant on this method of birth control.

Who is Nadine Dorris to say what the acceptable level of abortions is?

The simple test of the Cardinal's ramblings is - is it part of the problem or part of the solution. Quite clearly it is part of the problem. Over population is choking the planet. Levels of poverty and starvation are now worse than the days of Bob Geldof in his pomp. Too many people - too few resources.

How many times does it have to be spelt out ?

I agree with Nadine.

Over population is choking the planet.


but not in Western Europe - in Africa, The Middle East, Asia, Latin America......they just send their surplus population to Europe

"George W Bush got it right in his first inaugural: "No insignificant person was ever born."

Indeed. So 'significant' in his eyes that Bush and his chums couldn't even be bothered to count them after killing tens of thousands of them in Iraq.

Nadine is being unfair to the Catholic and Christian churches.

She approaches Cardinal O'Brien's statement from a politician's perspective. From this perspective it may or may not be counter-productive, but Cardinal O'Brien is not a politician.

Rather he is called to preach the gospel in season and out of season which he emphatically did last week.

If the churches were simply preaching and not caring, her comments would have more validity. However the churches and organisations led by Christians are at the forefront of caring work for women damaged by abortion or wishing a practical alternative. I think of CareConfidential and also Cardinal Winning's initiative in Glasgow.

Where I would agree with Nadine and the Editor is that there is currently limited scope to change the current law and that cultural influences are more important.

However, there are legislative measures which should find support from all people of goodwill e.g. Ann Winterton's 10 minute rule bill and other potential measures e.g. mandating parental knowledge of abortions on their children etc that should find support on both sides of the main argument.

Dorries' blog is more balanced and complex than readers of our Editor's note might realise. It has merits, and certainly compromises are the only way of saving lives (of the unborn) in the short to medium term. On the other hand, she goes too far in criticising the Catholic Church. I am not a member, but of course it has the right to express its beliefs and discipline its members on important issues.

1. "You see it on a Friday night in towns like Doncaster - very short skirts like belts but little chastity"

2. " the NHS pays Stopes to remove 180 000 - 200 000 unwanted pregnancies and then we import 250 000 replacement people each year from overseas"


Do you really imagine that the people mentioned in are the kind of people we want to be having children? Or indeed that those people are better for the country than the immigrants in 2?

Evolution is working in reverse as it is - the less education you have the more children you will have (because you do not have to pay the bill if you are poor - the government does). If we forced people who do not want children and are clearly unfit to have them, to have them, then we would be in a bad situation.

"Do you really imagine that the people mentioned in are the kind of people we want to be having children?"

The simple fact is that there are a very large number of white middle-class couples who are desperate to adopt babies. If the silly girls who get themselves into these situations were forced to have the children and then have them taken from them at birth and given to responsible parents - everyone would be a winner.

The children would live, be given all the advantages of a decent up-bringing with two loving parents (mother and father), silly girls who demonstrate no self-control or sense of morality would have to go through the pain of child-birth and not have the compensation of welfare state payments for life and housing at public expense.

"Do you really imagine that the people mentioned in are the kind of people we want to be having children?"

The simple fact is that there are a very large number of white middle-class couples who are desperate to adopt babies. If the silly girls who get themselves into these situations were forced to have the children and then have them taken from them at birth and given to responsible parents - everyone would be a winner.

The children would live, be given all the advantages of a decent up-bringing with two loving parents (mother and father), silly girls who demonstrate no self-control or sense of morality would have to go through the pain of child-birth and not have the compensation of welfare state payments for life and housing at public expense.

I find RodS’s comment (2002) appalling if he really (or is it a wind-up) is advocating the killing of children in the womb as a way of population control. Anyway, over-population is not choking the planet and there are not too few resources – just that they are badly stewarded.

I basically agree with Stephen Tolkinghorne (2353), but as for “silly girls”, don’t men have a part to play in the process too – even apparently sometimes pressurising the girl to have the baby aborted.

As for the Cardinal, it is up to the Church to be bold and uncompromising in declaring the truth, however uncomfortable that may be.

As for the Editor’s comment, “A pro-life creed will oppose racism, discrimination against disabled people, sex trafficking of human beings, third world hunger… all examples of innocent life being treated callously”, yes all those evils must be rigorously opposed, but abortion is the legalised and systematic murder of innocent children – surely more than treating life “callously”. We must not let the crucial importance and centrality of abortion as a defining issue be lost among a multitude of other issues.

Anyone who values human life must want to protect the child in the womb and would surely prefer to see all abortions outlawed (except perhaps in the few instances where the mother's physical life is in danger because of the pregnancy). But there is need to accept that in a democratic political process, it might not be possible to get everything - we have to work for inch-by-inch change in seeking to protect the lives of unborn children, taking account of where society is ‘at’. Yet with the images of babies in the womb and so on, I would have thought public opinion is becoming increasingly uneasy about the procedure.

A reduction of the abortion time limit, would be welcome as it would save some children, but most abortions take place earlier than 20 weeks. Anyway, if life begins at conception (and apparently some researchers believe that a child has some awareness even from the moment of conception), the debate about term limits becomes more a side issue. Reform should deal with the reasons abortions are performed, as well as the time limit, and aim to prevent social or convenience abortions.

First I'll comment on the politics. Abortion has, for some time, been a political issue in the US. The reasons for this are complex, but the single most important is that, over the past twenty-five years, the major political dividing line has come to be that between evangelical Christians and New York liberals.

British commentators sometimes look with dismay at the politicization of abortion in the US, and are thankful that we do not have that here. The most important reason for that is, in my view, that the most important fault line in British politics is that between classical Whigs and Catholic collectivists - the ideological battle between these two is some 300-odd years old, and is far from done yet (though the Catholic collectivists certainly have the upper hand at the moment). In that debate, it is hard to place the abortion issue. Should the Catholic collectivists be opposed to abortion, perhaps? Some are, certainly, but the issue is not a priority concern for collectivists, who wish to mould society, not get into the details of the individual. Well, perhaps the Whig, with his greater concern for the individual should be the protector of the unborn? But Whigs are instinctively inclined against intervention, so that even if they disapprove, they don't often see it as their place to intervene. Thus abortion cuts across the fault line in British politics.

But this will not, I think, be sustainable once the Americans (as they surely will, soon) reverse Roe vs Wade and allow states to outlaw abortion. For then the anti-abortion case will seem politically *possible* in a way that is beyond most people's imagination now. If they believe that it is *possible* to save the lives of thousands upon thousands of people, will anti-abortionists feel satisfied, any more, with a high-minded position along the lines of "Well, of course it's wrong, but what can you do, really?"

Now, to the substance. Nadine Dorries criticizes Roman Catholic cardinals for "blackmailing" MPs. But that is simply not to "get it", Nadine! The Roman Catholic cardinals believe that when an abortion is committed, a human being is killed. That is the clear and unambiguous teaching of the Roman church.

This teaching is what an MP will hear when he attends Mass. If he then refuses to vote to prevent abortion, as much as it is feasible for him to do, he is publicly renouncing the teaching of his Church on this core question - the nature of human life and the respect we should show it. How can he then expect to receive communion - the Church's statement that someone is in fellowship with the saints and in good standing with the church - how could an MP expect to receive communion after he has publicly and blatantly refused to try to save innocent human lives?

One more bite at this before bed-time. It seems to me that lots of people don't get this point, so I'll say it again. The position of the vast majority of evangelical Christian opponents of abortion in the US, along with that of many Catholics, is that all human animals are people. Since the human animal comes into existence at conception, killing that conceived human animal is killing a person.

That's *really* what they believe! They aren't kidding. It isn't that they mean something else by this - as if the point were *really* that these are potential human beings and saying "abortion is murder" is a pretty way of expressing their regard for human potential. No. They think that all human beings are people, and that killing tiny, innocent human beings is wrong.

Now, many of us here may disagree with that outlook, but it doesn't seem to me that one can accuse people who believe this of being "extreme" in their actions or being nasty "blackmailers". On the contrary, it seems extraordinary to me that not everyone that believes this is currently picketing an abortion clinic, just trying their best to save one more life - after all, people (according to their view) are being slaughtered every few minutes, and our taxes are paying for it. How could you look yourself in the mirror if you believed that and didn't try to do at least *something* to prevent it?

Andrew, picketing clinics is the way some do it but that is not the only or best way to try to influence opinion.

As for the possiblity of Roe V Wade being reversed making the position "It's wrong, but not much we can do" untenable, let's hope that happens! Maybe my comment (0037) that we can change the law "bit by bit" comment is too unambitious!

Don't you believe life begins at conception? I think this is point why the debate should be not so much about the time limit and more about the why abortions occur.

Andrew, don't you agree that life begins at conception and that abortion is therefore the murder of human beings? I was somewhat puzzled by your description of humans as animals - presumably if you don't think that humans are not a higher creation than animals, capable of moral choice, then you must consider it OK to kill any human being.

As for the possibility of Roe V Wade being reversed in the US making the "abortion is wrong but not much we can doabout " position untenable, let's hope this happens! Maybe my comment in my 0037 post about "inch by inch" reform is too unambitious!

Editor wrote For me the challenge is to understand that these issues are now largely cultural rather than legislative but to understand the tutorial importance of legislation

I agree, but isn't this (I just note) one of the things we dislike about the Blair government - that it has used legislation to give a view, rather than enforce it? One thinks of the litany of ASBO laws, or the fox-hunting malarkey, which seem to have had zero impact on behaviour, but has left us all clear about how Labour would like people to behave. I hope we do not expect centre-right politicians to start legislating in a similar vein.

Doesn't anyone feel that there really are some issues whereof it's better not to speak? I could write page after page about my views on abortion. It doesn't seem fit to do so, because I can't conceive of a polity where those views would have a chance of becoming law. And I wouldn't want them to become law just to 'send a message'.

I could write page after page about my views on abortion. It doesn't seem fit to do so, because I can't conceive of a polity where those views would have a chance of becoming law

If they are your principles, of course you should state them. When Wilberforce first campaigned against slavery his beliefs had no chance of becoming law. Should he therefore have kept quiet?

I don't hold to the hardline position of the RC Church but I admire the Cardinal for his principled stand. He obeys a law that is higher than the laws of men.

While there are many circumstances in which I would reluctantly support abortion (just as there are many circumstances in which I would support bloodshed in war) I cannot contemplate abortion without the utmost horror and revulsion.

If the majority of the population do not react similarly, then they are out of step with decency itself.

I know this country is little more than an appendage of the USA like Puerto Rico but I had thought Nadine Dorres was putting a Bill into the Westminster Parliament. Roe v Wade has no traction in Britain....we are not bound by US laws just EU ones.

The position of the vast majority of evangelical Christian opponents of abortion in the US, along with that of many Catholics, is that all human animals are people.

I had no awareness that the Roman Catholic Church did not distinguish between "animals" and "human beings". I see you are a Dialectical Materialist who sees no human soul, and denies anything other than the material. This suggests you have no theological underpinnings to any viewpoint and no religious conviction.

Well let us be clear, abortion is one issue upon which scriptural Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a copmmon position to the world.

I cannot understand how we can spend hundreds of thousands saving the life of a premature baby born within the period which the law accepts for abortion. You cannot deliver a viable child and yet abort another purely on whim.

Frankly I do not care about the USA unless we can also discuss gun laws, prisons, etc and add to those areas like Education where we have slavishly copied US practice and gained US problems. US abortion laws are far more restrictive than in Britain which has some of the world's most liberal

The most important reason for that is, in my view, that the most important fault line in British politics is that between classical Whigs and Catholic collectivists -the ideological battle between these two is some 300-odd years old, and is far from done yet

This seems to me to be a very eccentric point of view, or at any rate very eccentric in its expression and emphasis.

What do you mean by Catholic collectivists? If you mean 'Roman Catholic' most of the Tories who backed James II were certainly not Roman Catholics, and for much of the past 300 years after the 'Revolution' Roman Catholics continued to be denied any part in British political life.

I could certainly see a case for describing traditional Conservatives in France, Italy, Spain etc as 'Catholic collectivists' but few of their opponents could be described as 'classical Whigs'

And, at the risk of making a clunkingly banal point, it is unlikely that until the swinging sixties many 'classical Whigs' would have supported abortion liberalisation.

Carry on like this and the Christian Vote will move away from the Tories.
The Pulpit might just be more powerful than the Soap Box.

The most important reason for that is, in my view, that the most important fault line in British politics is that between classical Whigs and Catholic collectivists -the ideological battle between these two is some 300-odd years old, and is far from done yet

Well that puts the Whigs back around in the 16th Century which is a bit odd since they were not around until after The Treaty of Breda in 1650 being the Kirk Party.

The Roman Catholics had little prospect once the Puritans had executed Charles I....since Divine Right of Kings looks a bit threadbare after a regicide and it was only parliamentary reluctance to experience a new Commonwealth that led them to deal with Charles II and James II differently

[email protected]:07 May I gently suggest a little maths practice?

I assume he's working backwards from the time 'Whigs' officially became 'Liberals'.

I don't agree with him on that but I still don't understand your Whig/Catholic theory.

Traditional Tory

If you don't like the term "Catholic collectivist", then you may prefer "corporatist" or "third way". I refer to the inheritor philosophy of mediaeval Catholic social theory. This seems to me to be the strongest and most important alternative to the Whiggish philosophy that came later. Catholic collectivism is central to New Labour's philosophy, and is very important among right-wing parties across Continental Europe. Its most blatent manifestations in the UK are to be seen in the "fair trade" movement and in "just price" and "excessive pricing" discussions. At the core of its economic philosophy lies the idea that pay, prices and working conditions should reflect a fairness concept, and should be informed by negotiation between stakeholders (business, workers, consumers, other interested parties) overseen by government. Its societal philosophy is one of catholicism (universality) under a known framework of righteousness (thus it is, at core, an acceptance, rather than toleration, philosophy). Originally, Catholic collectivism favoured divinely appointed and annointed quasi-priest-monarchs. Latterly it favoured a limited separation of Church and state.

The Whiggish alternative exchange mechanism - the securing of property and contract rights, and the limiting of uncertainty in exchange, followed by the use of a price mechanism to reveal an equilibrium price to which concepts such as "fairness" or "justice" are simply inapplicable, is really a post-seventeenth century development. Its toleration philosophy (that we can disagree, and not even accept the validity of each other's point of view, and yet still function in society, working and trading together) is the complete antithesis of the Catholic collectivist acceptance-based approach.

There are many other differences, but I hope you see where I'm coming from, now.


One reason why abortion is such a hot issue in the States is that Roe v Wade imposed the most liberal abortion law in the World on those States of the USA that didn't want it, regardless of the wishes of their electorates.

No European country would permit partial-birth abortion (infanticide by any other name) which has only just been made illegal in the USA.

In many ways, I doubt if US opinion on abortion is that different from opinion in this country. People would like the law to be more restrictive, without wanting a complete ban. Most people would probably be quite content if the terms of the Abortion Act 1967 were actually applied, rather than being a legal fiction, as at present.

That's *really* what they believe!

If they really believed that a foetus was fully human, they would have funerals for miscarriages and advocate the death penalty for having an abortion. They'd believe an egg is the same as a chicken and an acorn is the same as a tree. For such people, sanctity of life begins at conception and ends at birth.

Awareness from conception. I've never heard such ill-informed nonsense. Where does this awareness reside? In the mitochondria perhaps?

Clearly, whatever you may think about abortion, a cluster of 16 cells is substantially different to a baby.

Abortion is a non-political issue in this country. Let's keep it that way.

As for the filthy idea of taking babies away from mothers and handing them to the middle classes, I say, go back to the fifties where you belong. You are effectively saying "let's punish these little sluts for their immorality."

The Catholic Church was addressing its own members. If those admonished for acting against Catholic doctrine cannot accept the discipline of their church then they should find a less challenging religion to call their own.

But, passing leftie, there *are* funeral services for miscarriages, even in the Church of England - see, for example, the guidance on funerals for stillbirths in the new Common Worship prayer book: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/funeral/theologicalnote.html

In US evangelical circles, I believe that such affairs are more established.

As regards the ridiculous comments you rightly condemn in your last paragraph, I don't think you should believe that those posting that idea here actually believe it themselves, or that if they do that is any sort of widely held belief.

Sorry. Link didn't post properly:

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/funeral/theologicalnote.html

Amidst some less than relevant remarks "Passing leftie" raises an interesting point which might be worth further discussion: is it better for an unwanted child to have never been born than be mandatorily placed with adoptive parents?

I would say 'No'.

"Passing Leftie" would appear to be saying 'yes', although it's unclear from whose perspective he/she is making the judgment. The remark "You are effectively saying 'let's punish these little sluts for their immorality'" is interesting: a tacit admission that removing the child from a reluctant mother inflicts harm on her, in turn suggesting that even reluctant motherhood has some form of inherent good (unless P/L is making the facile point that enforced maternity should receive some form of monetary compensation? P/L: would a form of unemployment benefit for reluctant mothers in confinement really answer your concerns?)

I wouldn't want abortion to become a party issue, and I'm glad that it never has become one in this country, but I don't like the idea that it isn't a political issue, or rather an issue which politicians should not discuss.

The woman haters and over population freaks out in force I see.

William Norton @ 13:16 "The remark "You are effectively saying 'let's punish these little sluts for their immorality'" is interesting: a tacit admission that removing the child from a reluctant mother inflicts harm on her, in turn suggesting that even reluctant motherhood has some form of inherent good"

I would have thought the punishment lies in forcing a woman to go through with a pregnancy she doesn't want, not in removing a baby from a woman who doesn't want it.

Thank goodness this is a free vote issue of conscience.

I couldn't share a party with some of the views expressed above.

CM: Perhaps I could have been clearer - in testing the implications of the punishment I was referring to the whole paragraph from Passing Leftie: "As for the filthy idea of taking babies away from mothers and handing them to the middle classes, I say, go back to the fifties where you belong. You are effectively saying 'let's punish these little sluts for their immorality.'" The first sentence prompted the thought about the second.

It's still an interesting and valid question, though: would/could/should a form of welfare benefit compensate for "forcing a woman to go through with a pregnancy she doesn't want"?

would/could/should

Sometimes/sometimes/no -- basically the same as compensation for false imprisonment.

Ah the wonders of the theological and ethical debate.

The argument by the RCC is an ancient one, derived from the speculative teachings of Thomas Aquinas. Essentially according to Aquinas the purpose of human existence was to come to know God. This set the tone for his entire system of ethics. In order to reach this goal the human race needed to perpetuate itself, and any action which would deny that would be deemed sinful. Hence the Catholic Church's view on abortion and contraception. All fair and logical you might say.

But hold on. This entire system of ethics presupposes that God is accessible in the first place. But if we are to believe the dogmatic version of an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient god this is fallicious. God , by his very nature, is transcendent.

So what we are looking at is what MAN thinks about abortion.

For me this is very simple. It is a matter of rights. When should a baby be afforded rights? I would vouch most of society would vouch that this occurs when a baby is sufficiently strong enough to be born and live of its own accord.

As technology progresses this date is being pushed back , necessitating a change in the law.

To me this is the key issue here. Not the outright ban , but the modification of abortion legislation to provide equal protection of the law to mother and child.

Dogma is all very well. But don't let it hijack the true purpose of the debate.

As I said above, I don't think anyone should consider the thought of confiscating children from their mothers to be in any way representative of an important Conservative point of view. I feel confident that more than 99% of those visiting this site would disagree with that idea and want to distance themselves from it. Insofar as there is any idea in that, I guess it might be the thought that, at present, support networks and services for young single mothers are inadequate. This arises from a complex of factors, as the work of Iain Duncan Smith's Commission for Social Justice has shown. Probably the single most important is the breakdown of the family - for the greatest support resources we have when children are born are surely our spouses, siblings and parents.

But the issue of support networks for teenage mothers, though certainly important, is far from the heart of the abortion debate. We wouldn't think that people's difficult personal circumstances justified them in killing their born children. That is because we consider their born children people, and entitled to protection even when their parent's circumstances are hard. Thus it is the status of the foetus - is it a person - that is the question that must be resolved before other debates even begin.

But, passing leftie, there *are* funeral services for miscarriages, even in the Church of England - see, for example, the guidance on funerals for stillbirths

I'm not talking about near-term stillbirths. They are specifically for "children dying near the time of birth", and the theological argument shows the church's opinion that the baby's personhood is not certain. I'm talking about the regular early miscarriages that almost all women have, often days after conception. You don't have a little blob in a casket and hold a funeral. Even the Catholic Church don't do a funeral service for a 5 week miscarriage.

This just emphasises the fact that it's not a straightforward baby/not baby issue, that a blastocyst is not the same as one week embryo is not the same as near-term foetus.

Finally, the "over-population" zealots need to look at per-head resource and energy consumption, not the number of people in the world. The average Westerner uses 200 times the energy of the average person from the developing world. But that would require reason, rather than wide-eyed xenophobia.

Writing as a practising Catholic it won't surprise anyone when I say that I wholly endorse the Cardinal's statement. It's not a question of blackmail. It's a question of stating the church's position and from that drawing out the implications of behaviour of politicians which is entirely at odds with the church's teaching.

My, wholly unsubstantiated, view is that in their heart of hearts everyone really knows that abortion is a terrible act. Again, wholly unsubstantiated, I believe that most arguments in favour of abortion are rationalisations intended to support a status quo that people find convenient.

In terms of party politics the Conservatives lost my vote over the gay adoption thing. I don't particularly have an issue with gay adoption per se (although I believe it's both far from ideal and also probably preferable to subjecting a child to a childhood in care). The issue I had with it was that the new legislation prevented adoption agencies acting in lines with their conscience.

In the medium term I guess that religious organisations in general and Catholic ones in particular will first lose state funding and then subsequently lose their charitable status. In some ways I won't regret this - it will allow them to speak freely without fear of the withdrawal of state funding. Whether Christians can continue to act in accordance with their beliefs wihtout breaking the law is another matter entirely.

As a Catholic I believe in the church's teaching. As a conservative I believe in freedom of expression, the rule of law and parliamentary democracy. If these two perspectives end up in conflict then things will have reached a very dangerous (and unnecessary) pass. We are not too far away from that point...

Jules.

"girls...would have to go through the pain of child-birth"

What a disgusting comment.

No-one is qualified to dictate what happens to my body except me. Not foaming-mouthed misogynists, nor religion, nor the state.

'Moral' argument must begin from some other premise than 'it is intrinsically wrong that..'

Send me a moral in the post and I'll consider it. Until then, my body is my own. No matter what.

[email protected]:14

Perhaps so. But is someone else's body yours, also, just because it happens to be attached there for the moment?

But is someone else's body yours, also, just because it happens to be attached there for the moment?

What a laughable way of looking at pregnancy. I see a foetus in a pin striped suit puffing on a cigar and reading the Times, attached by a tube to a pissed off mother. "Don't detach me, mother. That would be ... infanticide."

Do you think an egg and a chicken are the same thing? If so, I've got a dozen chickens going cheap.

A fertilized egg is a chicken in a shell. An unfertilized egg is, of course, just an egg.

Passing leftie: To put the question back to you - do you think a caterpillar and a butterfly are two insects, or one?

Passing leftie: it seems to me that for as long as you think the abortion debate is about eggs and chickens, you have completely misunderstood the traditional objections to abortion.

Oh dear...this is getting a bit juvenile.

The caterpillar analogy doesn't work.

The caterpillar is an independent entity.

A foetus is a vulnerable dependent. Much more like an egg than a caterpillar.

There are many other differences, but I hope you see where I'm coming from, now.

Yes, Andrew, I see where you're coming from but I don't agree with your approach.

Catholic collectivism is certainly a fair term to apply to the old religious right in the Catholic countries of Europe influenced by the ultra-Conservative thought of de Maistre and later by far-right 'social' Conservatives such as the younger Primo de Rivera.

But these 'Catholic collectivists' did not face 'Whig' free-marketeers; their opponents were Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists, in other words 'Whiggery' didn't get a look in. To coin a phrase, they were all socialists then.

In this country 'Catholic collectivists' or even non RC pseudo-Catholic collectivists have never had much influence. Chesterton and Belloc spring instantly to mind and I suppose radical Tory-socialists of the past such as Robert Owen are connected with a similar outlook

The architect Pugin and the younger Disraeli may also be cited, but all these people were a species of Tory - closer to Continental social Conservatism in many ways - but in no way the precursors of modern British socialism or 'Blairism'.

I think you are confusing the issue on two fronts. Firstly in that 'Catholic collectivism' is barely relevant to the British tradition, and secondly in that where it was relevant (France, Spain, Italy, Portugal etc) there was no significant tradition of the 'Whiggery' which you cite as its polar opposite.

[email protected]:03

Not at all. A caterpillar is a creature at its larval stage of development. Another such creature would be a kangaroo joey when first born. The difference between development of young true mammals such as humans and of young marsupials such as kangaroos is that the humans grow inside their mothers, rather than in an external pouch. So, if you don't like the caterpillar question, then I shall ask: Is a joey a living animal? Is it a different animal from its mother?

The answer to these questions is not one of ethics. It is one of science. The human animal exists from the moment of conception. The ethical question relates only to the status we ascribe to that animal. If you want to say that not all human animals are people (which I presume you do), then I ask: What extra factor are you wanting beyond humanity, for an animal to count as a person? I can think of lots of things you might suggest - this isn't a rhetorical question that people are not supposed to be able to answer. Most societies have not believed that all human animals are to count as people. For example, at various times and places women, children, Jews, prisoners, the mentally handicapped, and many other categories have not counted as people. Our society does not count very tiny underdeveloped human animals as people. I understand that. But when other other societies did not count women, etc. as people, they were often able to offer some account of why. So I want to know *why* tiny human animals don't count as people - what is it that they lack?

Once I know your answer answer to *that* question, we will be able to make progress in debate, because your answer will be something that we can have an ethical or political debate about. For example, you might believe that only human animals with above a certain intelligence are to count as people? Or perhaps you want to say that only human animals with properly developed limbs are to count as people? And so on. All of these are possible ethical positions to adopt. I do not personally find them attractive, but I find it difficult to say precisely in what ethical dimension I disagree with you until I know in what respect you consider it inadequate, to be a person, to be simply a human animal.

Passing leftie: it seems to me that for as long as you think the abortion debate is about eggs and chickens, you have completely misunderstood the traditional objections to abortion.

I can assure you I am very well versed in both sides of the debate. Analogy isn't a nasty rash, you know. It's clear that a thing that potentially can be something is not the same as the thing itself.

On a separate note, the BMA put out an excellent position paper on this delicate subject recently. I think it's pretty much required reading for anyone interested in this. http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/AbortionTimeLimits

Traditional Tory:

If you had taken me to be suggesting that, at any one moment in time for the past 300 years, it would have been possible (sensibly) to characterize the major debates of the day as reflecting a Whig/Corporatist split, then I apologize. My initial email may have given that impression (the perils of after-midnight posting!), but I had intended only to convey the thoughts (a) that the current important debate is between Whigs and Corporatists (which I still maintain), and that this is an old and important debate (which I still maintain - debates involving Communists and Socialists and Authoritarians and Anarchists have always, up to now, just been passing phases, in the broad sweep of the last 300 years - as indeed have the non-trivial-but-ultimately-not-fundamental debates within Whiggish and Catholic collectivist views). I have considerable respect for both opinions - the Catholic collectivists are worthy foes, and their arguments almost always deserve a reply - and there have even been occasions when it was appropriate to ally with Catholics collectivists against Communists and other ultimately-unimportant-but-in-the-short-term-dangerous nutters. But I am clear about where my ultimate sympathies lie.

Andrew

Does that mean TT is right and you were wrong?

PS

I still consider myself a Tory not a Whig.

Bill:

No.

PS When you say you are a "Tory", I take you to mean that you are inclined to a certain set of views within Whiggism - those of Edmund Burke. I suspect from your other views that that you do not mean that you are a Tory like Bolingbroke or Disraeli - and a good job, too!

Andrew @ 17:02

Fair question.

I would assign full rights and human status at the point where the baby is at a stage where it could be delivered and survive outside of the womb.As science progresses, this date is pushed back.

I would never be so arrogant to suggest that i think the argument about potential is a ludicrous one, its origins lie with Aristotle. It is however a pity that people tend to pick and chose their philosophy. You take his argument about potential, but you leave aretaic ethics.

I find it incredibly offensive that you would link people who accept a degree of pro choice thought in with the Nazis and other proponents of discrimanatory thought. It is reactionary and harms your argument. I may find many of the above expressions distasteful, but i understand that this is a very important debate in terms of the way it impacts on faith and morality, and i am not going to stoop to the level of throwing insults.

Humanity for me is contingent on the status of dependency. Science is not at a stage where we can transplant a foetus of two days into the laboratory. The mother's involvement is vital. With a joey it is not physically attached to the mother. A two day foetus is. The potential for surrogacy or adoption in a theoretical sense is different. The examples are not comparable.

The level of dependency is different, and therefore the rights afforded must be. Whilst it is still the mother's body and the foetus is not independent, conscious or displays any other signs of what i would call humanity, the decision rests with the mother.

Find a solution to the scientific problems listed above and i will fully agree that abortion can no longer be justified. But if we are talking science...these are my objections.

Andrew @ 17:02

Fair question.

I would assign full rights and human status at the point where the baby is at a stage where it could be delivered and survive outside of the womb.As science progresses, this date is pushed back.

I would never be so arrogant to suggest that i think the argument about potential is a ludicrous one, its origins lie with Aristotle. It is however a pity that people tend to pick and chose their philosophy. You take his argument about potential, but you leave aretaic ethics.

I find it incredibly offensive that you would link people who accept a degree of pro choice thought in with the Nazis and other proponents of discrimanatory thought. It is reactionary and harms your argument. I may find many of the above expressions distasteful, but i understand that this is a very important debate in terms of the way it impacts on faith and morality, and i am not going to stoop to the level of throwing insults.

Humanity for me is contingent on the status of dependency. Science is not at a stage where we can transplant a foetus of two days into the laboratory. The mother's involvement is vital. With a joey it is not physically attached to the mother. A two day foetus is. The potential for surrogacy or adoption in a theoretical sense is different. The examples are not comparable.

The level of dependency is different, and therefore the rights afforded must be. Whilst it is still the mother's body and the foetus is not independent, conscious or displays any other signs of what i would call humanity, the decision rests with the mother.

Find a solution to the scientific problems listed above and i will fully agree that abortion can no longer be justified. But if we are talking science...these are my objections.

[email protected]6:41

I did not equate pro-abortionists with Nazis - I made no mention of Nazis at all. I merely stated that most societies have not regarded all human animals as people - do you dispute this?

I do not offer any argument based on potential. I see very little ethical content in a potential anything. For example, I would consider it wrong to smash up a beautiful statue without reason. But I do not consider it wrong when I fail to produce or promote a *potential* statue that lies within a block of marble. Similarly, I see little issue with the destruction of sperm or ova.

I see nothing in the "viability" argument at all. The fact that mammalian breeding includes a phase within the mother's body is not of any significance to whether the early-phase human animal is *alive*. Of course it is a parasite, but you wouldn't deny that a tapeworm is alive, so why are you tempted by the thought that the foetus is not alive? It seems to me just blatently false. Foetuses are alive, just like caterpillars are alive, or kangaroo joeys are alive or tapeworms are alive.

*That* isn't at issue - there's just a fact of the matter about whether foetuses are alive, not a matter of opinion. They are. The real issue is about whether these particular human animals are people. You want to say that to be people (to have "humanity", as you put it) we must not be dependent. That is a potentially coherent view (albeit ethically unattractive), if we could construct a sufficiently clear notion of "dependency". How robust are you in that view? For example, if you were in a forest 100 miles from the nearest other person, and you had a baby with you, the baby would be utterly dependent on you. Would that disqualify it from having "humanity", from being a person? Again, sometimes people have terrible car accidents and rely on others to feed them and provide shelter until they recover. During this phase of total dependency, have they lost their "humanity" - do we not owe them hospitality, since they are not really people? Similar questions apply to the elderly and the sick.

Now one could be robust, and say that no-one totally dependent on someone else is truly a person - there is no duty of hospitality. But my guess is that you don't want to say that. But if you think you have a duty of hospitality to the car crash victim, why not to the tiny human animal?

There it is - the usual place the argument ends.

Silence.

Andrew Lilico is correct on everything he writes above.
And it's exactly what proponents of abortion do not want to hear. Arguments against the full humanity of pre-born humans, when examined with ANY critical rationale, are specious, self-serving, and just plain false.
It is this realization that made me, at such a late age, utterly pro-life.

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