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Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
A new survey of birth ratios has been launched by the British government recently, “amid fears that sex-selective abortions are taking place in Britain.” Earl Howe, a UK health minister, “wants to ‘monitor the situation’ and ‘remain vigilant’ following evidence that some doctors in the UK are carrying out selective abortions.” This is old news. The Daily Telegraph uncovered these practices in 2012. And the British Director of Public Prosecutions’ response? “There may be circumstances, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful.” Nice to know the DPP is protecting the weak and vulnerable.
On Wednesday the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice heard from groups interested in Alan Shatter’s ‘Brave New World’ family law reform. With the exception of Family and Life every group broadly supports his extremely radical and far-reaching law. Also on Wednesday I came across a blog by Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist. She puts some very relevant questions to those who favour redefining marriage, and therefore parenthood as well.
Slate magazine is famous for publishing contrarian writing, and the piece they recently published by Reihan Salam certainly fits the bill. What, after all, is more contrarian than saying “me, and people like me, should pay far more tax?” The category Salam belongs to, and the one which he believes should be taxed more heavily, is childless people.
Our wise ideologues are never short on assurances that every last one of their society-changing initiatives are brimming with “guarantees” and “safeguards.” The obvious one is abortion. In 1996, Bill Clinton said “abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare.” In New York in 2012, more African-American babies were aborted than were born. Ah – the Ratchet Effect upon morality. Euthanasia is a more recent controversy. Under the guise of individual choice for the sick, and compassion from the healthy, lobbyists have fought hard to get euthanasia on the statute books. Again, “guarantees,” “safeguards,” “safe,” “rare” – we’ve heard these promises before.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald's recent proposal to give adopted people greater access to information about their biological parents is a genuinely good idea. If they don't run afoul of the constitutional right to privacy, Minister Fitzgerald's proposals could end up helping many adoptees to trace their roots and discover their origins. So I'm curious as to why the same government currently advocating common-sense reforms like these, which acknowledge the importance of the natural ties, is simultaneously planning to pass a family law bill that almost completely ignores them?
David Quinn was on the Sean O'Rourke programme yesterday discussing childcare with Roisin O’Hara, who juggles work with having four small children; Evanna Boyle, also a mum of four who gave up work as a solicitor to mind her kids at home; Independent Senator Jillian Van Turnhout and Theresa Heaney, Chairperson of the Mothers’ Alliance Ireland. They discussed parental leave, child benefit, and whether the state should be picking sides in favouring working mothers over those who choose to stay at home.
The first same-sex marriages took place in the UK over the weekend. Brendan O'Neill, the editor of the online magazine, Spiked, has an article today asking a very pertinent question: how did support for gay marriage become the conventional wisdom so quickly? It hasn't been all that long since same-sex marriage was barely thought of or proposed by anyone, (it was even a minority position among LGBT activists). But now it has become an absolute article of faith for anyone who wants to be called a ‘liberal’.
There's a great guest post over at the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog from Prof. Michael McConnell of Stanford university, taking an in-depth look at the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case currently before the US Supreme Court.
Alan Shatter has other things on his mind these days to be sure, but the other day he still managed to provide a written answer to a question from Mattie McGrath on whether religious schools will still be allowed to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman in the event of same-sex marriage being passed here.
There's a growing trend in Ireland which is worth highlighting – namely, the growing hostility of third-level institutions to groups representing advocating Christian and pro-life ideas. The phenomenon of universities excluding those who disagree with the current consensus on sexual morality, or the prevailing academic view of abortion, has already been happening for awhile in the US and the UK, but in the last few months it's increasingly become an issue here.
Breda O'Brien was on RTE's Prime Time on Tuesday evening, debating surrogacy with Dean Hutchinson of the American for-profit company Circle Surrogacy.
Evidence that fatherlessness can have a bad effect on children is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Christopher A. Brown at the Huffington Post writers about a new review of studies on the effects of “Father Absence” which show that causation and not merely correlation is at work. There's a lot of interesting and sobering stuff it it, most of it confirming the destructive effect fatherlessness often has on children. But Brown's concluding words particularly struck me...
A headline in the Daily Telegraph reads, “Millions of Youngsters in Britain growing up in ‘loveless’ families”. This makes it sound like a tragedy for the children, but the story could just as easily read, “Millions of couples stay together for the sake of their children”, which is probably what is happening in many cases. As the Telegraph reports it, data from the Department for Work and Pensions “show that in households where both biological parents live together, 24 percent say they are either fairly, a little or very unhappy with their relationship”.
Chastity group, Pure in Heart, has been under heavy media fire lately. The Iona Institute's Ben Conroy was on a number of programmes in the last few days talking about Pure In Heart and responsible sex education. He argued that sex education in schools should be less about providing information about contraception, and more about providing young people with a holistic view of sex, with a focus on commitment, love and fidelity.
What constitutes responsible sex education? What should it look like? It's an ongoing debate, but one thing all sides at least pay lip service to is the idea that that the information we give to young people in schools should be based on scientific evidence. Chastity group Pure In Heart has recently gotten a lot of grief for suggesting that “condoms have a one-in-six failure rate”. The thing is that, properly understood, this claim is correct.
Over at The Public Discourse, here's a really interesting piece by Jennifer Lahl of the Center for Bioethics in America on surrogacy in the US, and on some of the legal battles now taking place in various states. With Alan Shatter's Children and Family Relationships Bill on the horizon, this topic is one we ought to be hearing a lot more about in the coming months because, if passed, the Bill will permit surrogacy - unlike the situation in other European countries such as Germany.
Catholic schools are not entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality, Dr Jacky Jones, formerly of the HSE, announced in The Irish Times on Monday. Where does one even begin?
In his column last week, Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times tried to argue that the institution of marriage has not declined at all in Ireland. His chief piece of evidence was that the number of marriages in Ireland has actually gone up compared with a few decades ago. He overlooked many countervailing facts including the huge increase in the number of births outside marriage, the huge increase in cohabitation and the large increase in divorce and separation. But even the marriage rate itself isn't as simple as it appears.
The Catholic lay group Pure in Heart has been attracting criticism lately, some of which actually managed to mention them in the same breath as Holocaust deniers. The chief reason for the criticism is that they promote chastity. In his weekly column in The Irish Independent David Quinn defends Pure in Heart and specifically addresses criticism that what they teach is ‘offensive’ and ‘unrealistic’.
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