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November 23, 2007

Lesbians and the Cardinal: Christie Davies argues that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is wrong to oppose IVF for lesbian couples

Posted by Christie Davies

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor should remember - argues Christie Davies - that he represents a minority only recently come in from the cold and stop denying the rights of another excluded minority, lesbians.

Following on his inept handling of the scandal of paedophile priests under his command, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, has once again made a fool of himself in matters sexual by attacking plans for permitting lesbians to have children by IVF on the same terms as other couples.

You would think that as a minority who long suffered legal disabilities and who are even today not entirely accepted on equal terms by the majority, Roman Catholics would have the sense not to bash other minorities climbing up the difficult ladder to equal regard. When we were guaranteed our inalienable right to bear arms in Britain's Bill of Rights, Roman Catholics were deliberately excluded. Are lesbians to be excluded from the right to bear children?

No one would disagree that children need fathers, preferably their biological fathers, but our reasons for wanting this are pragmatic. Such children are likely to be happier, less anti-social and more productive members of society. Everybody wins. Stable families of this kind are better than the alternatives. But for a lesbian with a long-term partner to whom she feels strongly attached, this is not a possibility.

Would we really want lesbians pushed into a situation where one of the partners has to have an affair on the side with an unsuspecting male acquaintance, simply because artificial means are not available? I am speaking here, of course, not of IVF but of artificial intrauterine insemination by donor, in America the source of mocking jokes about conception by turkey baster.

Here of course we come up against another problem to do with an irrational emphasis on fathers, the idiotic ruling that donors cannot remain anonymous and that the children of artificial insemination are entitled to know the identity of their biological father. In most cases in the past parents probably passed off the child as the biological child of the husband - an entirely sensible thing to do. Provided there was a reasonable match of appearance and the donors were screened for inherited diseases, it did no one any harm. Why should such parents and children be trapped in a degree of openness that does not apply to those who conceive or were conceived naturally?

Is it not true that many children are anyway not the children of their mother's partner even though she says they are? But we have not (well not yet) instituted a universal DNA data bank so that Wayne and Sharon can infallibly discover their real father.

As soon as sperm donors know that they could not remain anonymous they ceased to be donors and the shortage of donors is now one of the biggest problems faced by infertile couples.

The reasons given for abolishing anonymity were all bad ones. It was argued that a half brother and a half sister might unknowingly marry and expose their children to genetic defects. If there are many donors the chance of this are remote. It is far more likely to happen naturally in one of the promiscuous slums of Liverpool, Glasgow or South London.

It is no doubt useful to know your paternal ancestry not just because of diseases inherited in the male line, which can then often be screened out by the abortionist, but because you know what milder risks you may face. When my own father developed diabetes in middle age, I immediately stopped adding sugar to tea, coffee, cereals, gave up sweetened drinks and rationed my intake of puddings (a severe deprivation). I am now the age he was when he was diagnosed and I am glad that my certainty as to my father's identity has enabled me to avoid diabetes. But is that reason enough for not having anonymous sperm donors?

Worst of all is the nonsense talked about rights. Is it really better not to exist at all because there are no sperm donors than to live in ignorance of who your "real" father is? If you have any sense you will regard the man who brought you up and was kind to you as your father. If you still wish to penetrate the veil of ignorance, then you are a fool and the state should not indulge you by enacting oppressive legislation. Your parents right to a child and to medical privacy is more important than your petty curiosity. For obvious reasons my argument carries even more force when it is necessary to protect a lesbian couple.

This is what it comes down to - do lesbians have a "right" to have a child by artificial means. If they can give it a good home then obviously they do. The Cardinal's objections are really nothing to do with child welfare but are a product of a kind of bigotry that we cannot possibly uphold, for the same reason that we will never enforce Sharia law. Why can religious minorities not see that the rest of us are not in any way bound to respect their peculiar codes, in this case Roman dogmas about the "natural"? The Cardinal is objecting to "unnatural" lesbian parents in the same way he objects to their being seen as suitable adoptive parents.

He also probably sees artificial insemination and worse still in vitro fertilisation as another form of the unnatural and fails to understand that the link between sex and procreation is now a matter of choice. He has the same superstitious regard for nature as the worst kind of greenist, even though his views are derived from St Thomas Aquinas concept of the natural and theirs from the pantheistic paganism of Gaiaolatory.

The Cardinal's latest outburst is part of the Roman mindset that tried to ban contraception on the grounds that it thwarts the purpose of sex. Yet in Spain and Italy alike but not in Scandinavia the birth rate has collapsed to the point where we can set a date for the extinction of the Italians and the Spaniards. In the Republic of Ireland women who want sex without conception are regularly fitted with IUDs, which, as the former Irish Supreme Court Justice Roderick O'Hanlon pointed out in a letter to Cardinal Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, destroy genetically unique zygotes and are a form of abortion. No doubt His Eminence the Cardinal is angry to find that no one follows the party line anymore but is it really right for him to vent his anger on Britain's lesbians?

Let me be more precise as to what I mean when I say that lesbians have a right to have children, given that any kind of assertion of a positive right, such as a so called "right" to education (meaning that people are compelled to attend schools where they learn nothing) is very problematic. It comes against the horrid and unanswerable question, "How much?"

I am, though saying quite unequivocally that infertility is a medical problem in the same sense as myopia or partial deafness and they are as legitimate a call on our generosity to others as illness narrowly defined. It is better to devote our limited medical resources to removing these forms of suffering rather than to keeping people alive artificially whose lives will never be anything other than utterly miserable and who either do not wish to live or lack the capacity to be able to have such a wish. Such a view may be offensive to the Cardinal but today he only represents an embattled minority.

Even if there were enough sperm donors, and they were allowed to give false names, fertility treatment and especially IVF is expensive. I am not laying down criteria as to how to ration it. I merely suggest that lesbians get their fair share.

If the Cardinal is so keen on families having fathers, why did he not long ago throw his full eminence behind Fathers 4 Justice, the civil rights group founded by his namesake Matt O'Connor, after he was denied access to his children by one of Britain's sinister secret family courts? Why does the Cardinal not anathematise women who obstruct the enforcement of contact orders made by the courts? If a few of these wretched women were sent to jail for six months, as has happened to mothers who fail to send their children to school, you would soon see compliance from the others. I see no reason why a separated lesbian who is not the biological mother should not enjoy the same right of access and the right to have it rigorously enforced.

As usual lesbians have unfairly been made a scapegoat for the decay of family life in Britain. Everyone knows that the real problem is those welfare-subsidized underclass slappers who are happy to have children by different men and men who like the idea of fathering children but do nothing to support them. Not surprisingly the children grow up to be criminals and drug dealers. It is men and women like these who not only deserve our most savage moral condemnation and exclusion but the most rigorous of economic and legal sanctions. We should divert resources away from them to provide IVF for lesbians.

Dr Christie Davies is the author of The Strange Death of Moral Britain, Transaction 2006.

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As I understand it, IVF is a medical treatment designed to enable couples with a medical problem to conceive. Are you actually defining lesbianism as a medical condition? Nor is it simply a question of "fairness" and "rights" either. Lesbianism may not be the cause of family breakdown in our society, but the "rights agenda" is definitely a cause of it. What about the rights of male homosexuals, which is surely a more realistic comparison to lesbian couples. As things stand, there is no medical intervention that will enable their "right" to have children. All they can do is seek a woman willing to stand as a surrogate. It is surely far easier for a lesbian couple to find a male ready for the "turkey baster" system. Why should the tax payer have to pay an additional subsidy to lesbians who don't actually have a medical condition for their "right", when the equivalent heterosexual or male homosexual couple have no such call on public funds?

Posted by: PT at November 23, 2007 03:45 PM

This is just sophistry. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor is absolutely right to speak out against children being delivered into the hands of sexual deviants.

Posted by: Robert Sharppe at November 25, 2007 01:32 PM

Could the learned professor please help me with a semantic problem? Anyone who does not approve of homosexuality is at risk of being labelled (I was about to say branded) “homophobic”. So I looked for what I thought would be the opposite, namely “homophilic”, and find that it means more or less the same as homosexual, so its opposite would be “heterophilic”. So what, then, is the opposite of “homophobic”? Because it seems that is what our recent Dear Leader, Antonius Blarius, wanted to nation to become. And now he himself wants to become a Catholic, in spite of forcing through what appears to be act after act in contra-whatsit of all Catholic dogma.

Now one can point to many instances of where Catholic principle and practice have been contrariwise. “Ah, why shouldn’t I be a good Catholic, with me father a priest and me mother a nun?” goes the old Ulster joke. But this is not the case here. A.C.L.B. appears to have been, rather, Hell-bent on pushing through contra-Catholic legislation.

But Prof. Davies seems to be not only friendly towards homosexuals as people. (And why not? There’s lots them who are nice guys or gals.) But he also seems to take delight in homosexuality per se. Could I ask him personally, what would he think of a Magical Godmother who bestowed homosexuality on a newborn child?

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at November 27, 2007 05:53 PM

It is disgraceful that anyone should criticise our Archbishop like this. He is merely putting forward teachings that are of eternal validity . St Paul condemned both homosexuals and lesbians and his views are universally accepted throughout Christendom.St Thomas Aquinas merely formalised what we know from Genesis - God created man and woman as quite separate entities who should relate only to each other. Those who are attracted to others of the same sex must remain utterly celibate and abstain fromsexual activities.If they do then they share something of the virtue of those especially holy ones who take vows of celibacy to serve the world more fully. It is no good their complaining that they are innately like that and made like that for as St Paul again points out some pots are made to be broken.

Posted by: James at November 27, 2007 07:49 PM

I consider that “James” is totally OUT OF BOUNDS in using the “pots” argument in relation to people who are categorized as LGBT. I presume that he is referring to Romans 21 – 23:

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump, one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?

This is referring to those who are saved and those who are lost, and has nothing to do with sexual orientation. “James” then goes on to say:

God created man and woman as quite separate entities

Now as I read Genesis, a lot of Creation has to do with division or separation, for example the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and in a way, Eve was separated from Adam. To my mind this is very like the symmetry-breaking that occurred in the very early moments after the Big Bang.

Therefore, we can see that bringing homosexuality as such into the Most Holy Place is, in effect, a reversal of symmetry- breaking, returning matters back to Tohu va Bohu, or bringing chaos out of order, as someone has just said in Parliament. Therefore it is profaning the sanctuary if, for example, the Bishop of New Hamster wishes to celebrate his “Canadian-style” marriage in church. Outside the church, Christian standards may have informed our public morality, but there is no going back to Constantine or Justinian who tried to “inform” it by force.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at November 28, 2007 07:17 PM
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