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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 email@example.com and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
Former Justice Minister, Attorney General and PD member, Michael McDowell may dissent from liberal orthodoxies on matters of economics but he has always been reliably liberal on social issues and therefore it is no surprise that he is for same-sex marriage. But I’m not sure about his reasoning.
Sean O’Rourke on his show today (23/1) put it to Leo Varadkar that he has previously stated that children have a right to a mother and a father. The Minister said he was quoted out of context. That is not the case.
The announcement by Health Minister, Leo Varadkar, that he is gay resulted in a spate of programmes yesterday that debated same-sex marriage. Iona Institute representatives appeared on The Pat Kenny Show, The Last Word and Claire Byrne Live. David Quinn, Breda O'Brien and Ben Conroy all made appearances.
Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World should be required reading for anyone interested in social policy questions. In Huxley's "happy dystopia", the ties of flesh and blood have absolutely no importance. All children are conceived in test-tubes, and veryone is selected and conditioned as embroyos to fulfill a particular societal function, with those that don't measure up being discarded. When I read stories like the following one about the fertility industry in Hollywood, I often think of Huxley. To cut a long story short, one sperm donor has fathered at least 23 children with 23 mothers and the mothers found many of them live within a stone’s throw of each other.
The Irish Times has recently been running a series of interviews with Irish people from all walks of life, and this week's one is particularly worth reading. Annmarie Boles is a stay-at-home mother, and writes articulately and persuasively about her experience. For her, working full-time in the home is not a second-best option, or something that she's been forced into.
"How can marriage campaigners better reach out to single parents?" asks Ashley Maguire in a blog on The Institute for Family Studies' website. She thinks the pro-marriage movement can learn from the pro-life movement, particularly from the latter's successes in the United States, where 231 pro-life laws have been passed at the state level since 2014. Maguire looks at an Atlantic article by David Frum which analyses the development of the US anti-abortion movement since Roe VS Wade.
At a minimum we ought to be able to agree that there are two lives to be considered in the latest right-to-die/right-to-life case to come to our attention, namely the tragic case of the pregnant woman who is clinically brain-dead but whose unborn baby has a chance at life. However, to judge from much pro-choice commentary on the matter to date, only the mother is being considered, or the wishes of her family. The life of the baby does not weigh in the balance at all. That is wrong.
Writing in the Atlantic magazine, Alana Samuels has an article about a new phenomenon: the increasing numbers of single women and lesbian couples who are seeking sperm donors who will take an active role in their children's lives, as distinct from no role, which is the preferred option of most people who used donor sperm to have children. Dawn Pieke is a single woman who wants her child to have a relationship with her sperm-donor dad. The dad is Fabian Blue, a gay man she met online on a website for people who wanted to have kids and raise them together, but without a romantic relationship. This is what's known as ‘Platonic parenting’.
The BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) has been facing a backlash ever since it ruled that an item on Newstalk’s Breakfast Show breached the broadcast regulations by being excessively biased in favour of same-sex marriage. The Breakfast Show had to read out the ruling last week. A similar ruling was made against the Mooney Show a few months ago. The BAI has to stand its ground in the interests of democracy.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath spoke recently about his Private Members’ Bill entitled The Disability (Amendment) Act 2014 during a press conference organised by the advocacy group Every Life Counts. Deputy McGrath seeks to regulate against the continued use of the phrase “incompatible with life.” Another key word in his statement was “dehumanising.” Indeed.
A debate over ‘assisted suicide’ is already taking place in Ireland and is only going to gain in intensity over time as the population ages, healthcare costs increase and notions of personal autonomy continue to override other important social and moral goods.
Bishop Kevin Doran said at a talk on Thursday night organised by The Iona Institute that if we permit same-sex marriage, the link between marriage as an institution and procreation will have been destroyed. This is the child-centred view of marriage. Brian Sheehan of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) responded by offering a very adult-centred view of marriage thereby proving Bishop Doran’s point.
BBC Radio 5 Live was awash with this latest research the other day, commissioned by family lawyers’ association Resolution to mark the start of Family Dispute Resolution Week. They found that the children of divorced parents fare worse in school, and some can experience eating disorders, while some turn to alcohol and drugs. I know: I was shocked, too…
Iona Institute Director David Quinn was on Newtalk’s Moncrieff programme last week talking about surrogacy. In a long interview, Moncrieff and Quinn discussed the differences between surrogacy and gamete donation on the one hand and adoption on the other. Quinn asked Moncrieff to consider some of the unintended consequences that could come about through legislation for assisted reproductive technologies: he pointed out that it would be perfectly possible for a single man to commission a child through egg donation and surrogacy.
Wow. That was, essentially, my reaction upon first reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ speech on marriage a the Vatican’s Humanum Conference (or the Colloqium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage, to give it its full name). This is one of the deepest, most profound defences of the institution of marriage that I’ve ever read. In fact, to call it a defence would be to do it an injustice: as evangelical pastor Rick Warren said at the same conference “It's not enough to defend marriage. You have to celebrate it.”
The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) recent report lends more weight to the argument that marriage is good for your pocket. It argues that “changes in family formation and stability are central to the changing economic landscape of American families, to the declining economic status of men, and to worries about the health of the American dream.”
The Italian Supreme Court has decided that a couple who used a surrogate mother in Ukraine to have a child should not be allowed to raise the child. The child will be placed for adoption instead. The case shows how strict some European countries are about surrogacy. Ireland should follow suit.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar was on Shane Coleman's show on Newstalk, and questions raised by Iona came up in the discussion. Coleman asked Varadkar if he had considered following Germany, France and Sweden in banning surrogacy, and if he thought that surrogacy made a child the subject of a contract.
So, the government have won their surrogacy case in the Supreme Court. Birth mothers will remain legal mothers for the moment and will have their names recorded on the birth cert, but the Oireachtas will basically have the power to define the term, “motherhood” as the court rejected the State's argument that the legal principle mater semper certa est or “the mother is always certain” was a part of Irish common law. Not that the government will be complaining: it's not every day that a parliament gets to define a crucial biological and social reality as it pleases. Are the government likely to change course? It might seem unlikely: but consider the example of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
November 4th is a big day. Alongside Congressional elections, it hosts the Colorado Definition of Person and Child Initiative (“Amendment 67”), an initiated constitutional amendment. If approved by voters, the measure would include unborn human beings under the definition of “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code. Amendment 67 was initiated by Heather Surovik, whose son, Brady, was killed whilst in the womb. Heather was in a car accident, struck by a drunk driver. According to Healther’s doctor, Brady was “days” from being born – and had already reached 8.5 lbs. I admit, when I opened the article, I thought the picture was of a sleeping baby – such was his level of development.
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