Sunday, June 25, 2006

The loophole of life

The Cardinal (our one and only Cardinal here in the tiny UK!) has been talking to the Health Secretary about bioethics. This, as well as the fact that I discovered how to put lines across my blog posts, has prompted me to do a proper, substantial post! Enjoy.

It's interesting to consider that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a wonderful document and basically in tune with Catholic teaching and feeling about the sanctity of human life, doesn't explicitly protect "unborn" people.

For example, here are the first three, rather fundamental, articles:

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

You will notice that it says "born", not "conceived"... and "age" is not one of the "distinctions" mentioned. I suppose it could be possible to slip "biological age" or "developmental stage" into the category of "other status". But that is not a popular suggestion!

I defy anyone, anyone in the UK, in the universe or in The Universe, to find me a GCSE or A-Level Biology textbook, in which it is denied that a human embryo, the product of the fertilisation of the human ovum by a human sperm, is a potential human organism, capable of becoming a "person" with all those moral and legal rights, given normal conditions.

"Normal" in this case involves a bit of "self-observation" - giving other embryos the same chance we had as ex-embryos ourselves, and having a bit of tenderness towards the other, the one who resembles us. But our society censors precisely this, this "loving knowledge". It pretends that science suports our nihilistic conclusions (philosophical ones, arrived at independently of the scientific evidence).

We wouldn't put anything like this in our textbooks or classroom resources because it would seem like those awful fundamentalist "Creationist" textbooks, or possibly a return to Nazism. If you don't beleive me, try it - as an excercise, write a short justification of the current relativist attitude to abortion and euthanasia, in the light of GCSE human biology and the UDHR. I promise you, it won't sound convincing to a normal 17-year-old.

So instead, this incredible scientific whitewash happens at the level of popular culture, politics, implicit assumptions and newspaper rhetoric. It's still an affront to reason though, also to law, I suppose (I'm not an expert) and an affront to good science.

But this is rather interesting, isn't it? Try to guess who wrote it:

...surely it would be far more useful for everyone if women were taught to read signs of their own fertility. This would attune them with their bodies and help them notice changes, and they could then, in certain cases, get help well in advance of actually wanting to have children. Such insight into your own fertility can be found by charting your monthly period, temperature, cervical fluid and cervix position. Easy, quick and empowering when you know how. It's not fashionable to do this, but it can help determine if you have a short luteal phase (which may deter successful implantation of a fertilised egg), and can even help you see the menopause coming.

It costs nothing, yet doctors rarely explain it, preferring to prescribe fertility drugs and send a woman for tests that she may not need. But then drugs and IVF treatment make money for someone, somewhere. Perhaps scaring women is easier, and more profitable.

Nope, it's not from a Catholic paper, destined to be read with righteous but vague disgruntlement and then forgotten, it's from Guardian journalist Annalisa Barbieri!

Leaving asside all the to-do about women's career vs. family priorities, which is a question threatening to go way above my non-economist head, isn't it amazing that a Guardian journalist is advocating a universal education in the latest NFP techniques, something which the Catholic Church could wholeheartedly advocate!

I've been a dyed-in-the-wool feminist since reading Germaine Greer at age 18, and I'd much rather consider paying women better for the more fundamental work they have always done, and still do: producing the next generation of society through childbirth, motherhood and a thousand other unnoticed "works".

I don't know if Barbieri would agree with this "Chestertonian Feminist" side, but it's amazing that there is support for NFP.


Blogger louise said...

My personnel manager joked to a newly pregnant colleague that the next employee benefit they were working towards providing for female staff was contraception(!). Personnel are also trying to sort out the company pension scheme. No one seems to have spotted the link - I guess we only see what we want to see.

By the by, very excited to have come across your blog. Thanks for listing so many UK and ROI sites - it'll keep me occupied for weeks.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 1:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joee Blogs said...

Good post, cheers mate, well done for finding that Guardian article.
I'm sure you'd agree it's important that in using arguments against abortion etc. we don't use anecdotal information but actual scientific and well founded information. So thanks for the link, will have to keep that one up my sleeve!

Sunday, June 25, 2006 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Sorry to correct you, but there are two members of the Sacred College in the UK - you forget H.E. Keith Patrick Cardinal O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 1:35:00 AM  

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