Monday, 6 February 2012

Does Catholic Voices now "accept that abortion should be legal"?

On Friday the Catholic Voices Monitor blog commented on a pro-abortion motion passed by the University College London Union (UCLU). Monitor wrote:
"The motion then went on to attempt to ban pro-life meetings -- 'to ensure that any future open events focusing on the issue of termination invite an anti-choice speaker and a pro-choice speaker as well as an independent chair, to ensure there is a balance to the argument' -- in resolving that: 'When clubs and societies invite pro-life speakers they should also invite a pro- choice speaker to balance the debate and vice-versa.'"
The Monitor blog-post concluded (my emphases in bold):
"But in reality, Catholics on campus have nothing to fear. The motion contains no definition of "pro-choice"; if it means simply someone who accepts that abortion should be legal, most Catholics -- including the bishops of England and Wales, who advocate incremental restrictions, but not yet a total ban -- would fit that description.

And that is why it may turn out that the UCLU motion will come to be seen not as closing down discussion of abortion but a major spur to opening it up."
Firstly, Monitor is wrong that "the motion contains no definition of "pro-choice". The motion reads:
"This Union believes:
1. That both men and women have the right to exercise complete control over their own bodies and this includes the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy or not.
2. Safe and free termination should be available for all who require it..."
"This Union resolves:
1. To officially take a pro-choice stance and support students' right to choose the best option for them when pregnant, whether this involves continuing or terminating the pregnancy."
Secondly, Catholic teaching cannot be 'reframed' as 'pro-choice' on abortion, any more that it can be 'reframed' as 'pro-choice' on racism. Yes, pro-lifers can assert rightly that they are 'pro-choice' in the sense they offer women ethical alternatives to abortion, or that they give unborn children the choice to live which abortion denies. However, what pro-lifers, Catholics, bishops etc. cannot do is "accept[ ] that abortion should be legal" and therefore adopt the label 'pro-choice' on that basis.

Thirdly, does Catholic Voices now "accept[ ] that abortion should be legal"? For this is what is strongly implied by the Monitor blogpost when it says that "most Catholics -- including the bishops of England and Wales" "accept[ ] that abortion should be legal". The function of this purported acceptance is placed by the Monitor blogpost in a positive context:
  • "[T]he motion may...offer[ ] an opportunity for Catholic voices to be heard where normally they are shut out."
  • "Catholics on campus have nothing to fear"
  • "[I]t may turn out that the UCLU motion will come to be seen not as closing down discussion of abortion but a major spur to opening it up."
Fourthly, what is Catholic Voices's source(s) for its claim that "most Catholics -- including the bishops of England and Wales" "accept[ ] that abortion should be legal"?

Last year Dr Austen Ivereigh, one of Catholic Voices's founders and coordinators, co-authored a book entitled: "Catholic Voices: putting the case for the Church in an era of 24-hour news". Among a number of dubious things, the book says (p.159):
"The abortion question is really two: the wrongness/licitness of abortion itself; and what the law and the state should determine."
However, St Thomas Aquinas, the common Doctor of the Catholic Church, taught that:
"Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like."
Summa Theologica I-II, q.96, art.2
Abortion is indeed:
  • one of "the more grievous vices";
  • "possible for the majority to abstain" from;
  • " the hurt of others";
  • "without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained"; and
  • "murder".
Legal bans on abortion:
  • exists for the sake of the common good (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1951);
  • check audacity, safeguard innocence and prevent harm (cf. St Isidore, quoted by St Thomas, Summa Theologica I-II, q.95, art.1);
  • bind men to the common principle of the natural moral law that the intentional killing of the innocent is always wrong (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1957).
To accept as currently desirable - as distinct from recognising as deplorable - the legal availability of abortion is to accept an operating principle of fatal discrimination against the unborn; and would undermine the efforts of the pro-life movement internationally.

The Catholic Voices book also says (p.164):
"To re-criminalise abortion is an unrealistic political ambition".
Is this not, however, a self-fulfilling prophecy, the acceptance of which is a goal within a strategy often employed by the pro-abortion lobby to make the success of their ‘progressive’ agenda seem inevitable?

Along with Dr Ivereigh, another likely source for Catholic Voices' erroneous ideas about abortion is Clifford Longley, one of the "experts assisting" Catholic Voices'. Mr Longley is the editorial consultant of The Tablet, which is notorious for its dissent from Catholic teaching on pro-life and pro-family issues. Dr Ivereigh is a former deputy editor of The Tablet, to which he remains unswervingly loyal. Last November Mr Longley defended Dr Jon Cruddas, the pro-abortion Catholic MP, by rejecting the claim that Britain's law on abortion should mirror the moral law by banning abortion (see my letter published in The Tablet in response. Tabula delenda est.)

The Monitor blogpost also makes the error that the upper time-limit for abortion in Britain is 24 weeks, when in fact abortion is allowed up to birth under the Abortion Act 1967 as amended in 1990. Such an error is understandable when repeated by the biased and ignorant mainstream media, but is simply not tolerable when repeated by an organisation which was set up to dispel such myths and which includes speakers active in pro-life organisations.

Among the speakers for Catholic Voices are good pro-life people, from good pro-life families and with valuable pro-life experience and skills. They joined Catholic Voices because they want Catholic teaching, including pro-life teachings, to be heard in the media in a totally truthful and accurate way. Those young talents are being let down badly by Austen Ivereigh, Jack Valero and some of their fellow Catholic Voices, who continue to misrepresent those teachings.

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