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Tuesday, 17 May 2005

An elderly couple decide to go to the doctor for a check-up. The doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. His wife asks, "Where are you going?"
"To the kitchen" he replies.
"Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?"
"Sure."
"Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" she asks.
"No, I can remember it."
"Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. You'd better write it down because you know you'll forget it."
He says, "I can remember that! You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries."
"I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, so you'd better write it down!" she retorts.
Irritated, he says, "I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Leave me alone! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!" Then he grumbles into the kitchen.
After about 20 minutes the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.
She stares at the plate for a moment and says - "Where's my toast?
Check out da appenin news at the BBC's bangin' website:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/4554179.stm

So that's a Big Up to the Electoral Massive... or is it?

Now the yoof term "respec" is acceptable fayre for the political discourse. Everyone is giving respect. Surely it's not another Labour initiative to cash in on the vernacular and try to weedle their way into the mind of popular culture?

More Spin, if you please, MC Blair.

Respect is due. But I doubt it will be forthcoming.
Here's the story:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4385573.stm

I say hats off to Murphy O'Connor. I thought he was crap as a diocesan Bishop, but he is speaking up for the defenceless here and I support that.


Abortion copies Nazis - cardinal
Abortion leads to Nazi-style birth control and lets the strong decide the fate of the weak, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor has warned.
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales wrote: "That way lies eugenics, and we know from German history where that leads."

He denounced "embryo selection on the basis of gender and genes".

Pro-choice campaigners said they were disappointed he had attacked "women's right to safe legal abortions".


“ What else is the termination of six million lives in the womb since the Abortion Act was introduced? ”
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
The cardinal claimed human beings were made "instruments of other human beings", in the Sunday Telegraph article.
Britain was already on the road to Nazi-style eugenic - or selective breeding - policies, he argued.

"For what else is the termination of six million lives in the womb since the Abortion Act was introduced, and embryo selection on the basis of gender and genes?"

Cardinal Murphy O' Connor also said in an interview with Baroness Shirley Williams for the GMTV Sunday programme that it was "legitimate" for Catholics to discuss issues surrounding abortion.

But he insisted that he was not saying Catholics should vote for any one political party.

'Sacred'


Pro-choice group Abortion Rights said: "We don't think political and religious leaders should play political football with women's lives.

"Most political leaders made it very clear in the last week that abortion should not be used as a political issue in the run up to the general election.

"This would risk a re-run of US election last November which made abortion, gay rights and stem cell research central to the debate in place of more pressing national and international concerns."


“ We don't think political and religious leaders should play political football with women's lives ”
Abortion Rights
She said 76% of the public supported women's right to choose, and called for more widespread access to emergency contraception and sex education.
Meanwhile, another British Catholic leader has called on the electorate to ask questions about prospective MPs' views on "life issues" in the run-up to the General Election.

In his Easter message, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said voters should not only be sure of what they believed, but make "clearer demands" of elected representatives.

"No human being is simply a cog in a machine, a means to an end, a possession or a plaything. Human life is sacred," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4385573.stm

Published: 2005/03/27 11:19:34 GMT

© BBC 2012

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

In March the question came up in the media of whether abortion should be considered an electoral issue.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor came out and - for once - stood up for something. He is on record as suggesting that Abortion is an electoral issue in that catholics should factor this into their choice of who to vote for on 5th May 2005.

Tony Blair got all in a flap about this. He does not support the Pro-LIfe agenda. Blair's arguments on the subject are clever in the choice of phrases that he uses (to paraphrase: "We should not criminalise a woman for making this difficult decision") but lose their way when it comes to the detail ("Obviously there's a time after which it's wrong to abort").

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4349581.stm

Amazingly, even Rowan Williams, the leader of Anglian Christians in England and Wales, has made his views reasonably clear:-

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/sermons_speeches/050320.htm

[22-Aug-2012: The link above has died. In its place I submit the following link, which I think takes us to the original article:-

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/647/why-abortion-challenges-us-all
]

Apparently: Tony Blair does not believe abortion should be an election issue, arguing it is a matter for individual conscience.

A reed in the wind. Having a public conviction is just too damned risky, eh?

I ask: If the central Life questions are not good enough to be election issues, then what is?



Here is the full transcript of Rowan Wiliams' article:-



Why Abortion Challenges Us All
Sunday 20th March 2005

An article by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Sunday Times.


For a large majority of Christians – not only Roman Catholics, and including the present writer - it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life. Whatever other issues enter in to the often anguished decisions that are made about particular cases, they want this dimension to be taken seriously.

Equally, though, for a large majority of Christians, this is a view which they know they have to persuade others about, and which they recognise is not taken for granted in these terms in our society. The idea that raising the issues here is the first step towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some Neanderthal Christian Right that is plotting a takeover is alarmist nonsense. One of the confusions that has arisen in the past week is the idea that we are somehow going to be swept up into a British re-run of the US election of 2004, supposedly with a sort of moral conservative panic dictating votes. It's far from clear that this is in fact what happened in America; and even if it were, we are a long way from any comparable situation here.

The plain fact is that no party has made or is likely to make commitments on this matter as part of a set of electoral pledges. No party has given the least indication that it would seek anything but a free vote on any related question. For all the political parties in this country, this has always been a matter of conscience; the Parliamentary Pro-Life group is an all-party alliance. In other words, while constituents may well take the opportunity of questioning individual candidates on their attitudes, they will not find a consistent pattern that follows party lines.

But – a very large but – all the party leaders have admitted in various ways that they are far from happy with our abortion law as it stands. Former defenders of the law, even David Steel, who piloted the 1967 Act through Parliament, have expressed real dismay at many aspects of what the Act has made possible. And in the country at large, not least among young people, there is a groundswell of distaste and dis-ease about it.

Some of this is to do with sheer statistics. Since very few people are actually bland or triumphalistic about abortion, a rising number of abortions means a rising number of – at best – tragic and humanly costly options. But the advance of technology has also reinforced anxieties. Whether it is a matter of evidence about foetal sensitivity to outside stimuli (including pain), the nature of foetal consciousness, or the expanding possibilities of saving early foetal life outside the womb, the trend is inexorably towards a sharper recognition of the foetus as a natural candidate for 'rights' of some kind. In the light of this, it is a lot harder to reduce the issue to an individual right to choose. And this is not something said primarily by patriarchal clerics, but increasingly by women themselves, and young women at that. The absolutely clear assumption that the availability of abortion was a basic element in the agenda for the dignity of women is by no means universally obvious now. There are a good few who see it now as another triumph of impersonal, even abusive, technology.

A lot of media comment last week showed a curious degree of embarrassment about the question - a certain solemnity of tone, warning people off this sensitive territory. No, of course it wasn't an election issue, and yes, legal abortion was here to stay in pretty much its existing form. Yes, the legal limit might need some discussion, but no, not just now and not just here. The ruling on Joanna Jepson's appeal about the legality of abortion for a cleft-palate condition turned on a fine legal balance of probabilities, but it did nothing to take forward the questions that agitate many about specifying more carefully the nature of the 'serious' conditions that might justify termination.

It sounds as though we don't want to be made to think awkward and unwelcome thoughts about it all. Christians are likely to feel, a little wryly, that it is strange for them to be appealing to others to do a bit of moral reflection on the advance of science. And they will want to ask something like: granted that this cannot be an election issue in the sense of being a matter of manifesto policy for anyone, what sort of an issue is it going to be? Where and when can our legislators as a body think through where we are and what needs to be taken into consideration about this?

The idea of a Commission has been floated and is worth thinking about further. Questions to parliamentary candidates might be a useful way of opening up some public debate (even if this is not a matter of settling electoral preferences) but the debate needs to go much wider. Some serious work remains to be done about legal matters (the difficult issue of rights), and about the nature, authority and implications of research around foetal consciousness.

Of course, if you begin from the conviction stated at the beginning of this article, the whole thing is a good deal more urgent. But even if that is not a shared conviction, there is more and more of a shared unhappiness and bewilderment around our current law and its effects. It would be a real failure if agreeing that it was not an electoral issue provided an alibi for taking it seriously as a public issue. It is worth pondering , with an election in prospect, just what happens to those questions that are not party matters yet are public matters of immense weight. It happens that abortion has emerged as potentially one such matter; but there will be others. The general challenge is about how we keep faith with the seriousness of such questions and resist the pressure either to make them partisan or to shelve them respectfully and indefinitely.

© Rowan Williams 2005

Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005

"Wayne Rooney - what a tit," is what someone in my office was heard to mutter earlier this afternoon. This was after he'd read yet another headline in the newspaper regarding the alleged antics of this football icon.

But come on - it's very easy to ridicule the young and talented men of football. It's all too easy to criticise these super-earning, celebrity football heroes in the prime of their life, who swan about with the world at their feet and believing they can do anything to anyone without consequence or recrimination.

Very easy indeed.
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