Friday, November 14, 2008

Catholic Politician "Swayed" by "Emotional Tug" in IVF debate

Compassion, I have heard it said, is the core of Christian ethics.

But it is a devilishly dangerous foundation on which to build an ethical approach to law, precisely because it is allowing a feeling to sway a thought. It is giving the heart control of the head. It is allowing reason to be swayed by the passions.

Now all that might be good in its proper place (eg. a romantic novel), but even in real life relationships, we know too well what trouble lays around the corner for those who follow the "tug" of the the passions and are "swayed" against the objections of their reason.

In the halls of our legislative assemblies and councils, there is even more to be concerned when, as The Age reports this morning in the article "Isabella's story sways a conservative", the application of and aquiescence to emotional pressure succeeds in narrowly passing a piece of legislation which will impact on the whole of our society.

Here are snippets. It is not the clearest account of the matter, and is itself obviously written to produce an emotional result, but you will get the picture. The emphasis is added by me:
IT WAS an emotional tug that traditionally conservative Labor MP Bob Smith couldn't ignore.

As the Catholic MP wrestled over whether to back a bill giving single women and lesbians greater access to fertility treatment and change surrogacy arrangements, close friend Stephen Conroy intervened.

A Victorian senator and Rudd Government minister, Mr Conroy was forced to travel to Sydney with his wife to have their daughter, Isabella, through IVF and surrogacy.

Isabella's story, Mr Smith told Parliament, had an extraordinary and powerful influence.

"The good senator did everything in his power to pressure me, even to the extent of suggesting I would be voting against Isabella," he said.

Senator Conroy and his wife, Paula Benson, turned to surrogacy after Ms Benson had ovarian cancer and a hysterectomy and could not conceive.

Yesterday, Mr Smith's vote was crucial in the Victorian upper house's backing of the proposed legislation.

After days of furious lobbying by supporters of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, a second reading vote passed 20 to 18.
You get the picture. It is a little sad. One cannot be too hard on Mr Smith. He is, after all, a product of our times--and probably the Catholic moral education of the seventies which emphasised such "core principles" as "compassion". And he was under such great pressure from his good friend.

But it is sad. It is clear that without this "pressure", he would have voted against the legislation, and the legislation would have been scuttled. It raises all sorts of questions about conscience and acting in accordance with it, as well as the way in which our laws are made.

I would also like to ask the more theoretical question: What happened to Mr Smith's conscience at this point? Was it "awakened" by the emotional pressure of his friend's lobbying? Or did he act contrary to the way in which his formed conscience directed him to act?

For the moment, the bill has not yet become law. It has to come back to the house inthe first days of December after a spell with a legislative committee. But if Mr Smith votes again as he did yesterday, then we can expect that by next Christmas we could well be welcoming more than one child into the world without a natural father...

15 Comments:

At Friday, November 14, 2008 11:20:00 am , Anonymous IS said...

And to think until last year that Conroy's nickname in Politics was The Altar Boy.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 11:49:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

This is the same Bob Smith,who when the Abortion Bill was passed ,took the Lord's name in vain because Parliamentary security had not been on duty up in the visotors gallery. What a hypocrite he is,and I told him so

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 12:03:00 pm , Anonymous Failing Catholic said...

Where was the Church in all this lobbying???
I fear that we have been completely run over by a well oiled machine that promoted the Abortion Reform Bill and now this Bill.
We failed to see this coming, prepare for it and fight against it - leaving it to some (such as the stalker on the news last night) who make the pro-life movement to look like a bunch of kooks. We have failed badly. All of us. And we will be judged on this failure.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 12:34:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

What is the Victorian pro-life movement doing? Do they have lobbyists at the moment?

Lord, preserve us from pollies who can't use their brains.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 12:36:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

David, have you and others been writing to these guys? I'd do it, myself, but they happily ignore non-Victorians when it suits them

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 2:00:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

This is the same Bob Smith,who when the Abortion Bill was passed ,took the Lord's name in vain because Parliamentary security had not been on duty up in the visotors gallery.

Ah, of course, Him. It all falls into place now.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 2:03:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Where was the Church in all this lobbying??? I fear that we have been completely run over by a well oiled machine that promoted the Abortion Reform Bill and now this Bill. We failed to see this coming, prepare for it and fight against it...

Guilty as charged, I am afraid. No one expected the Government to move this quickly on this issue - although we are all preparing for the euthanasia debate.

The surprising thing was that this bill was before the Lower house and voted on before the public was really aware of it, certainly before any campaign could be built against it. The opposition to it was greater than to the abortion bill, and perhaps we were a little too complacent, thinking it would be defeated in Parliament.

Anyway, we need to get ready for the Euthanasia debate--assuming we are given the chance to debate it before they vote on it.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 2:41:00 pm , Anonymous Sharon said...

It's more than one more child without a natural father I think, it's also about more frozen embryos ready to be experimented on.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 2:43:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

i thought the euthanasia had been debated and failed to pass the Upper House?Bet the greens will support it-anything pagan in origin,anti-prolife and against people's humanity ,they will always support.

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 2:50:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

At times like this I feel the temptation to despair. I'm really not sure where to turn.

The problem is that many Catholics (including Catholic politicians, academics, teachers and medical professionals) have thoroughly assimilated the technocratic and anti-human assumptions of modernity, and they pass these on to their children and students. The Catholic tradition of respect for life and human sexuality is now foreign to them, or is abandoned as soon as it might cost something.

This massive gap between Catholic identity and Catholic belief is unsustainable, and the dam is about to break.

Once mandatory referral for abortion takes effect, we're all in for a nasty shock. Plenty of "Catholic" doctors and nurses will go along with the State Government's plans, and will resist the Archbishop's attempts to rein them in. They'll justify this by saying that failure to refer is "unprofessional".

How do I know this? Because I was told by an obstetrics nurse at one of our hospitals that she plans to do this, and she couldn't understand why anyone would have a problem with it.

While I admire the work Archbishop Hart has done on the abortion legislation, he has left his run about 20 years too late. That's how long it takes to build a broadly based and intellectually respectable movement to oppose such things.

It's never too late to start, but we have to be realistic. The Catholic education system will be no help because has been domesticated by the state bureaucracies and their fellow-travellers within the CEOs.

It will take a long time to build up alternative ways to educate Catholics and develop a robust movement for change. In the meantime, we are going to lose a lot of these battles.

Where's a Santamaria when you need them? We really need a lay intellectual leader with a streak of mongrel!

 
At Friday, November 14, 2008 5:06:00 pm , Blogger Cardinal Pole said...

I wonder whether there will be a Parliamentary Inquiry into Senator Conroy’s emotional blackmail? After all, Cardinal Pell was accused of “emotional blackmail” and hauled before an inquiry for his intervention into the debate over stem cell research in N.S.W. last year. Imagine the outcry if, say, Msgr. Hart had used the tactics of Sen. Conroy. Funny how there’s one standard for the supporters of the commodification of human life and another for its opponents.

I wonder, also, whether Mr. Smith thought to ask Sen. Conroy how many of the latter’s child’s embryonic brothers and sisters were tipped down the drain, discarded as ‘excess embryos’?

 
At Saturday, November 15, 2008 7:03:00 am , Blogger Paul said...

Its not only Catholics who can see the truth about IVF. Margaret Somerville is an Australian who is now an atheist philosopher (but I think was brought up a Catholic) and is often described as "controversial" because she opposes gay marriage. Her argument is that marriage gives the right to have children, so this will then be used to argue for IVF for gay couples. As she points out, no-one then asks the children if they want to be deprived of their right to have a father.
http://www.unisa.edu.au/hawkecentre/events/2007events/MSomerville_InConversation.asp
These days, rational argument is indeed controversial.

On a related matter, did you hear Philip Nitschke's comment yesterday about the conviction resulting from the murder of alzheimers sufferer Graeme Wylie? He blamed Mr Wylie for "an act of selfishness" in not doing more planning for his own death and making difficulties for the Nitschke mob. As the grieving daughter of Mr Wylie said, Nitschke's organision Exit International is like a cult and the followers get mesmerised by Nitschke.
When euthanasia is discussed in the media, they alway bring up very extreme cases to tug at the heartstrings, but the real cases are often more like this one, a loved one who is suffering from a mild affliction and who needs care.

The lack of rationality of many today is also shown by the case of the 13 year old girl, Hannah Jones who has refused a heart transplant. The health authorities in England tried to force it on her, confusing euthanasia with refusal of extraordinary treatment. (A friend who knows more of the Cathechism than me pointed to CCC 2278)

 
At Sunday, November 16, 2008 6:07:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

While I admire the work Archbishop Hart has done on the abortion legislation, he has left his run about 20 years too late. That's how long it takes to build a broadly based and intellectually respectable movement to oppose such things.

It's never too late to start, but we have to be realistic.


Never fear! By the grace of God I shall convert them all with my magnificent book, "Secularism Sux!"

As the grieving daughter of Mr Wylie said, Nitschke's organision Exit International is like a cult and the followers get mesmerised by Nitschke.

Nitschke - a walking defence for the Inquisitions.

 
At Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:51:00 am , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Speaking of the difficulty in keeping apace with culture-of-death bills, how about this committee proposal to pay women for aborting handicapped offpsring in order to save money for the government?

They're coming in thick and fast. Off-shore, there are abortion lobbies making parliamentary/political rounds in the Philippines, Uruguay, the UK, Jamaica, and probably a few more countries.

 
At Tuesday, July 07, 2009 12:54:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Conroy is conducting dodgy trails to try and prove that filtering is good for us all, the Rudd labor party is takling Australia into a new paternalistic fascist Christian censorship regime for labour

http://www.hereticpress.com/Dogstar/Religion/Vilification.html#dodgy

Tim Anderson

 

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