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Tony Blair's Bioethical Legacy

Interview With John Smeaton of SPUC

LONDON, FEB. 17, 2007 (Zenit) - The United Kingdom is exporting anti-life and anti-family values, says John Smeaton, director of an organization campaigning for pro-life laws.

Smeaton, the national director of the U.K.-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, spoke with us about the present and the future of bioethics in Britain.

Q: Tony Blair expects to step down as prime minister this year. How has the bioethical landscape in Britain changed during his tenure?

Smeaton: Under Tony Blair's leadership, the government and parliament have plunged Britain into an ethical abyss, in which there is no right or wrong but simply administrative and technical questions to be resolved by the implementation of new anti-life evils.

Two of the first things Tony Blair did in office was to establish a strategy on teenage pregnancy and to revive proposals to change the law on end-of-life treatment.

The former involves supplying abortion and birth control drugs and devices to schoolgirls as young as 11 without parents' knowledge or consent; the latter has led to a law -- the Mental Capacity Act 2005 -- which allows, and in certain circumstances requires, doctors to starve and to dehydrate to death vulnerable patients.

The Blair government exports abortion-on-demand to the developing world under the guise of the Millennium Development Goals and it has increased funding for population control agencies -- such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Population Fund -- complicit in China's one-child policy.

Tony Blair has personally championed destructive experiments on cloned human embryos. In general, there is virtually no area of pro-life or pro-family ethical concern which has not been made worse by the Blair government.

In addition, the U.K. is a major influence within the European Union and in many other parts of the world in support of anti-life, anti-family policies.

Q: How does the level of bioethical debate in Britain compare to the rest of the world? The United States, for instance? Or Australia? Or Germany?

Smeaton: The level of bioethical debate compares badly with the rest of the world.

The mass media in Britain, led by the so-called quality media, such as the Times and the BBC, present the debate on bioethical issues such as human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion, in an almost entirely one-sided way.

Scientific and ethical considerations which suggest why human embryonic stem cell research is ethically irresponsible are either not included at all in such media coverage, or they are presented in a totally inadequate way. Also, the government of the day appears to have an infinite capacity to manipulate the terms of bioethical debate.

For example, the government succeeded in enshrining euthanasia by neglect in law in April 2005 while simultaneously successfully assuring politicians and church leaders that they were completely opposed to legalizing euthanasia.

Q: Christian leaders in Britain in recent years have lamented the state of religion, as witnessed in low church attendance. Has that affected culture-of-life issues?

Smeaton: Whatever the fundamental cause of low church attendance, the situation is worsened by the lack of clear teaching on culture of life issues.

Tragically, in Britain, induced abortion and birth control drugs and devices are provided to children at school, including Catholic schools, under the age of 16 without parental knowledge or consent.

Last year, a teacher at a mixed Catholic school in Kent, in England, spoke out publicly about the sex education given to her class of 13- to 14-year-old children. The teacher, a Miss McLernon, said: "I think people should be aware of what is going on in schools. I witnessed the nurse using a plastic model to show these children how to put on what she said was a chocolate flavored condom."

Miss McLernon said: "Every child in the class was given a card explaining where you could get free contraceptives and the abortion-inducing morning-after pill. The card also gave details of a website for young people explaining how a surgical abortion could be arranged. This is a Catholic school where you would expect children to be protected from this sort of thing."

Sadly, more and more Catholic parents are approaching the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children with terrible experiences in Catholic schools, both at the secondary and primary school level. Protests on the part of Catholic parents and teachers seeking to protect young people do not appear to be heard.

Furthermore, the British and European Union governments have enacted a body of law on the equal employment rights of male and female homosexuals and bisexuals and transsexuals which is to be enforced with the threat of severe legal sanctions.

Q: Does debate in Britain have the philosophical and theological language necessary to handle bioethical issues well?

Smeaton: Britain has not only lost its moral compass. For the most part, it has also lost both the language and the capacity to think in a morally rational way.

For most, morality is primarily connected with a curious mixture of self-interest, compassion, and the desire to avoid pain, suffering and inconvenience. This explains the capacity of the British to be both pro-choice about abortion while at the same time feeling a moral unease about it all.

Even the word "discriminate" has been appropriated as a word with wholly negative connotations when in the not-so-distant past to be called discriminating was a compliment.

Thus has the distinction between just and unjust discrimination disappeared from the moral lexicon. There is no objective language to categorize moral rightness or wrongness where sexual conduct is concerned, but at the same time there is a moral Stalinism in the legal insistence that all employers employ a person irrespective of their declared sexual orientation and personal living arrangements.

Q: If things stay on course, what will Britain look like -- culturally, ethically -- in 25 years?

Smeaton: The answer lies in Rome and in the appointment of courageous bishops. If the Catholic Church begins to provide an unambiguous lead in defense of life and the family and, in particular, on the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse, the work of lay secular movements like the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children which have been working for over four decades will bear fruit and things will improve.

A peaceful pro-life and pro-family movement, increasing in numbers, sharing its values with their fellow-citizens, will have a growing influence in society.

[If not,] lay people who seek to defend life, marriage and the family may be imprisoned. The Mental Capacity Act 2005, in certain circumstances, already criminalizes doctors who insist on giving patients food and water.

Legislation promoting homosexual rights is becoming ever more draconian.

Health professionals who refuse to refer patients for abortion will become unemployable as will teachers who refuse to obey the government's secret abortion policy for children.

Parents who provide their children with traditional Christian teaching regarding homosexuality may have their children taken into care by the state. Authentic moral values will be taught in secret or not at all.

Britain will continue to be a major influence in the European Union and other parts of the world in support of abortion, embryo research, human cloning, euthanasia and homosexual "marriage."


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Bioethical, Blair, England, Smeaton, SPUC, Life, Abortion

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