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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 protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.

Major survey of attitudes to Assisted Human Reproduction (Tom O'Gorman)

A clear majority of public opinion in the West favours the use of assisted human reproduction (AHR) in certain circumstances, according to a major survey carried out last year. The study asked 1,500 adults in 15 countries, including Ireland, about their views on IVF and other AHR techniques. It found that most people favoured its use in general but were opposed to specific uses, for example to facilitate same-sex couples who wish to have children.

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The latest terrible abuse case (David Quinn)

Yet another horrendous abuse case has come to public attention, this one involving the abuse and neglect of six children by their mother.

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Britain, children’s rights and child protection (David Quinn)

Children’s charities insist that we need a children’s rights referendum in order to better enable the State to protect children. They claim the Irish Constitution too strongly favours parents over children, although as Justice Adrian Hardiman correctly points out, it strongly favours parents over the State.

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Why have US teen pregnancies started rising again? (Tom O'Gorman)

Maggie Gallagher, writing on a US website, National Review, points out that there has been an uptick in the number of teen births in the last couple of years in that country, after that number had come down in previous years. In short, she hasn't got an answer for why, but she does comprehensively rebut the suggestion that abstinence programmes or religious objections to sex education have anything to do with it.

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Absent fathers - another view on SVP remarks (Tom O'Gorman)

The very important remarks of SVP regional head Brendan Delaney on absent fathers again highlight the importance of children having both their mother and their father. Why are they absent? In some cases it is because the father wants nothing to do with his children. In other cases the mother doesn’t want him to have anything to do with them. In other cases still, social support agencies actively discourage fathers from having a proper relationship with their children.

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Gilligan insists Pope's teaching on homosexuality “has to stop”

As we know, Pope Benedict's pre-Christmas non-statement on homosexuality has been fiercely and widely condemned. In Ireland, Anne Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone were among the first to attack the Pope for allegedly saying that homosexuality was as harmful as the destruction of the rain-forests. (He made no such claim). They said he was denying their humanity.

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Pope’s comments spun out of control (David Quinn)

The source of this story seems to be Reuters which put a very, very heavy spin on comments the Pope made yesterday to the Roman Curia. The story went worldwide and has caused major outrage.

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Religious symbols on State property (David Quinn)

There is a row in Washington State at the moment over a (now-revoked) decision by State authorities to allow all and sundry to display religious, non-religious and anti-religious messages and displays in the Capitol building on a third floor corridor.

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Golombok: ‘No need for fathers’ (David Quinn)

A few months back the British Government removed from the law the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father before treating an individual or a couple wanting a child.

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Susan Golombok's research on lesbian parenting (Tom O'Gorman)

Professor Susan Golombok is well known in the field of family research. One of her specialist areas is children raised by lesbian couples. On Monday night in Trinity College Dublin, at the invitation of the Children’s Research Centre, she gave a summary of her research into the psychological and developmental effects on children on being conceived through egg or sperm donation and having same-sex parents.

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Joanna Rose on donor-conceived children – Guardian article.

Joanna Rose, who spoke to a meeting of the Iona Institute in June this year about her experience as donor-conceived child, has written piece for the Guardian describing her ordeal.

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All you need is love? The case of the 70 year old mother. (David Quinn)

A 70 year old woman in India – Rajo Devi – has just given birth thanks to fertility treatment. This is yet another example of how the assisted human reproduction industry is far too adult-centred. No child should be born to a person old enough to be his or her grandparent.

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Divorce debate clouded by faulty assumptions (Tom O'Gorman)

One of the key arguments during the 1995 divorce referendum centred around the effects of divorce on children. A trawl through the archives shows that both sides cited data on this question in the months leading up the vote.

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Female employment and fertility rates (David Quinn)

Last week the Department of Social and Family Affairs released a very useful report called ‘Families in Ireland’ by Tony Fahey and Catherine Anne Field.

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Hayes changes tune on parental choice? (Tom O'Gorman)

Parental choice in matters of education is under scrutiny again, with UCD sociologist and socialist Kieran Allen arguing in the Irish Times on Monday that the State should cease funding fee paying schools altogether. Rebutting Allen's argument was Fine Gael's spokesperson on Education, Brian Hayes, holding that parental choice was “a cornerstone of our educational system”.

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Geoffrey Shannon’s radical view of parenthood (David Quinn)

Geoffrey Shannon is arguably the most influential family lawyer in Ireland today. When he speaks, we ought to listen.

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Which minority, whose rights? (Tom O'Gorman)

A decision a while back by the Human Rights Commission of Alberta in Canada to ignore a complaint about a song urging listeners to “kill the Christian” highlights the problem with such quangos. This very same human rights body earlier silenced a Christian pastor from speaking about homosexuality such a few months earlier after he described the gay rights agenda as ‘wicked’.

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The real facts of life – sex and intimacy (David Quinn)

The Observer last Sunday contained a vivid personal account by a 29 year old woman of her arrival at a moment of truth about the meaning of sex and intimacy. Her reflection has its own faults but if we want to teach people the real ‘facts of life’ this would be a good place to start.

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California’s war over same-sex marriage (David Quinn)

One of the most startling results of the November 4 General Election in the United States was the decision by Californians to vote in favour of traditional marriage, and against same-sex marriage, by 52pc to 48pc.

It was startling because only a few months before the California Supreme Court had given the go-ahead to same-sex marriage and also because California is perhaps the most gay-friendly place in America.

Two notable things have happened since this vote. The first has been the furious and extreme reaction of many gay rights activists, while the second has been the decision by the California Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the November 4 vote called Proposition 8.

The fury of the gay rights lobby was even directed against blacks who voted in favour of Prop 8 by a margin of 70pc to 30pc. Streets protestors on the night of the vote were heard to shout racist slurs against blacks.

Thomas Sowell, a black sociologist and commentator remarked that “racial epithets were hurled at blacks in Los Angeles — not in black neighborhoods, by the way.

“Blacks who just happened to be driving through Westwood, near UCLA, were accosted in their cars and, in addition to being denounced, were warned, ‘You better watch your back.’

“Even blacks who were carrying signs in favor of gay marriage were denounced with racial epithets.”

Mormons have also been targeted by gay rights extremists. A Book of Mormon was set on fire on the steps of a Mormon temple. Envelopes with white powder (meant to terrify people that they had been sent anthrax) were posted to other Mormon temples.

Yet more radicals marched on Mormon establishments shouting ‘bigot’ at anyone with a difference of opinion.

Why the Mormons you may ask? It’s because they gave very generous financial backing to the Prop 8 campaign and because they are a soft target. They were also targeted in anti-Prop 8 TV ads.

What is happening in California is extremely disturbing and a harbinger of things to come. Basically, anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is being labeled a bigot no matter how rational the arguments against it are, and those who support same-sex marriage are giving themselves permission to pour down hatred on those who don’t agree with them.

Gay militants also want to bring the law to bear on those who oppose them and to shut down to the greatest extent possible religious opposition to same-sex marriage. In this, they may get a great deal of what they want.

For example, Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”

Thus, a Methodist church in New Jersey was successfully sued when it refused to let a lesbian couple celebrate their union in the church hall. A Christian dating agency based in California was successfully sued by a man based in New Jersey because it would not match up same-sex couples.

In New Mexico, a state civil-rights commission fined an evangelical wedding photographer $6,637 for politely declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. In California, the State Supreme Court ruled unanimously against two San Diego fertility doctors who refused to treat a lesbian owing to their religious beliefs, even though they had referred her to another doctor.

When will clergy and other religious leaders be sued merely for saying they believe homosexual acts are sinful?

What is also disturbing is the fact that the California Supreme Court would even think of testing the legality of Proposition 8. It beggars belief that it might be willing to overturn the stated will of the people.

Of course, what gay rights activists claim is that no group, however big, should be able to deny the rights of any other group. But this begs the question; is there a right to same-sex marriage?

What we are in fact witnessing is an attempt to absolutise the principle of non-discrimination to the exclusion of all other social goods, including traditional marriage and religious freedom.

In other words, equality absolutists are seeking to do what they often accuse Christians of doing, namely imposing their morality on others.

The same tendency is almost as strong in Ireland as it is in America.


Stable marriage, unstable cohabitation (Tom O'Gorman)

The latest report from UK think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, illustrates once again that cohabitation is a far more unstable family form than marriage. Figures presented in the report, taken from a series of studies, show that that cohabitating relationships don't last as long as marriages, that marriages that take place after cohabitation are more fractious and that parents who cohabit are more likely to split up than married parents, with disastrous results for children.

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"If I were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal...The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.."

Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, "Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps."